Oman, Jersey win to clinch promotion to WCL Division Four
Aamir Kaleem's stellar tournament with bat and ball continued as he claimed his second straight Man of the Match award in Oman's two-wicket win over Guernsey at St Clement. Kaleem put his stamp on the match today in all three disciplines: running out opener Tom Kimber with a direct hit from point, taking 2 for 12 in ten overs including the prized wicket of Matthew Stokes, and top-scoring with 35 to lift up Oman after entering at 13 for 4 in the fifth over.
With net run rate tiebreaker at play in the WCL, Oman crucially won the toss and inserted Guernsey. It meant Guernsey entered the day needing to not only win but do so by at least 100 runs in order to pass Oman on net run rate, having entered the day +1.188 behind them.
They would also have to do it without captain Jamie Nussbaumer, who missed the game with a leg injury. It caused a reshuffle to the batting order with Stokes dropping down to take Nussbaumer's spot at No. 4 while Kimber, who replaced Nussbaumer in the XI, opened instead of the team's leading scorer Stokes.
Despite the urgency of the day with promotion up to Division Four at stake, Guernsey employed a cautious approach from ball one and eventually finished on 141 for 8. They only scored from 11 deliveries in the first 60 balls bowled by Oman over the course of the opening Powerplay to reach 23 for 1. GH Smit was the batsman to fall in that stretch, spooning Rajeshkumar Ranpura to mid-on for 13.
Even after the new-ball spells of Ranpura and Munis Ansari were negotiated, Guernsey's top order could not get out of a rut against the first-change tandem of seamer Sufyan Mehmood and the left-arm spin of Kaleem. From the 14th through the 16th overs, Kimber and Oliver Newey played out 17 straight dots. Newey's own streak of 14 straight dots was broken with a bit of luck, as an edge off Mehmood split the keeper and slip to go for four.
However, Newey's vigil ended two overs later as this time another edge off Mehmood was safely pouched by Swapnil Khadye behind the stumps for 11. Three balls later, Kimber ran himself out pushing for a risky single as Kaleem swooped in and fired a direct hit that connected with Kimber well short at the non-striker's end. Kaleem then struck again in back-to-back overs to nab Stokes first and then David Hooper both defending down the wrong line to arm balls for a pair of lbw decisions to make it 48 for 5 in 24 overs.
With the exception of the 37th over, Oman kept all eleven fielders inside the ring from overs 25 through 42 to pile the pressure on stand-in captain Ben Ferbrache and Oliver Nightingale. Ferbrache eventually fell driving to mid-on for 10. After 41 overs, Guernsey's run rate was still crawling at two per over with the score on 82 for 6 before Jason Martin produced a late surge with 33 off 32 balls.
A straight six by Martin off Zeeshan Maqsood in the 42nd followed by a scoop off captain Ajay Lalcheta over fine leg finally forced Lalcheta to push the field back. Guernsey eventually scored 51 off the final eight overs - the 45th and 46th were the only two of the entire innings in which 10+ runs were scored - to provide faint hope of an improbable result, with the final equation being that they needed to bowl Oman out for 39 in order to pass them on net run rate.
Newey made it look briefly possible with his new-ball burst. He began by forcing a false drive from the tournament's leading scorer, Maqsood, to Ferbrache at mid-off and struck Vaibhav Watagaonkar on the toe with a yorker next ball to make it 10 for 2. Ferbrache dismissed Jatinder Singh edging behind while Khawar Ali was also given out caught at the wicket as Guernsey erupted in the field.
Kaleem's cool head steadied Oman's nerves though and by the time Noorul Riaz was caught at cover for Newey's fourth wicket, the score was 39 for 5, meaning Oman needed a single to guarantee promotion regardless of the match result. On the same ground where Kaleem and Lalcheta produced a vital 101-run stand against Nigeria, the pair added another 53 against Guernsey with Kaleem unfurling a series of cuts and pulls among his five boundaries.
Left-arm spinner Max Ellis wound up removing both men, but Khadye finished off the job for Oman. Khadye shepherded the tail superbly to finish 33 not out with the winning run taken off a bye.
Oman will face Jersey in the final after the hosts put in a clinical display to defeat Nigeria by ten wickets at St Martin. Jersey inserted Nigeria at the toss and bowled them out for 93 in 26.4 overs. Ben Kynman took 6 for 18, a new best for a Jersey bowler in WCL tournaments eclipsing Andy Dewhurst's 6 for 20 against Bahamas at WCL Division Five in 2008.
The game was on pace to end well before Oman's chase against Guernsey began and with Jersey starting the day behind Guernsey and Oman on net run rate, they set a brisk pace chasing down the target as insurance to go ahead of Guernsey on net run rate in case Guernsey defeated Oman. Nat Watkins made an unbeaten 50 off 41 balls with nine boundaries while captain Peter Gough finished 41 not out off 44 balls with victory achieved in just 14.1 overs to mark Nigeria's second ten-wicket loss of the tournament, a result that guaranteed relegation to ICC Africa regional qualifying.
Tanzania will join them despite beating Vanuatu by seven wickets at St Saviour. Vanuatu was the only team to choose to bat first on winning the toss on Friday, a decision they regretted after losing two wickets without any runs on the board, including star allrounder Nalin Nipiko. It brought captain Andrew Mansale to the crease and he remained for the rest of the innings, making 60 not out off 124 balls in his side's total of 149 in 48.5 overs.
Mansale's innings was crucial in the context of the tournament as a low total followed by a rapid Tanzania chase would have clinched relegation for Vanuatu and allowed Tanzania a crack at staying in Division Five. Instead, Tanzania's equation required them to get to the target in 18.1 overs, but never made a serious challenge. Their only double-digit over in that span was a ten-run eighth and by the deadline they had settled for 63 for 1. Kassim Nassoro made 50 not out off 73 balls as a consolation victory was eventually achived in 42.1 overs.
Saturday's final between Oman and Jersey will be played at St Saviour while the third place game for the chance to stay in Division Five will be played between Guernsey and Vanuatu at St Martin. The fifth place game will be played between Nigeria and Tanzania at St Clement.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna