Scotland make third World Cup trip
Scotland clinched their third World Cup berth in dramatic fashion with a tense three-wicket win over Kenya with three balls to spare at Hagley Oval on the final day of the Super Sixes in Christchurch. Rob Taylor, who came into the match with only 56 runs in six matches at the tournament, entered at No.8 and hit three fours and a six on his way to an unbeaten 46 off 37 balls to take Scotland over the line and back to the World Cup for the first time since 2007.
Kenya won the toss and elected to bat first, posting a very competitive 260. Alex Obanda produced 89 at the top of the innings to lay a solid platform. Captain Rakep Patel made a vital contribution with 38 in the middle order but Scotland made life difficult on themselves with 24 extras, including 14 wides.
Matty Cross scored 55 to get Scotland's chase off to a positive start but his wicket in the 20th over was followed a short time later by the run-out of Freddie Coleman to generate a bit of tension. Stand-in captain Preston Mommsen took his time getting set, striking only one four on his way to a half-century off 81 balls. The wickets of Michael Leask and Richie Berrington swayed momentum Kenya's way making the score at 169 for 6 at the start of the 38th, but Mommsen counterattacked by striking a six and three fours in the space of seven deliveries to get Scotland back on track.
Mommsen finally fell for 78 with Scotland needing 35 off 25 balls and only three wickets in hand knowing by this point that only a win would take them through to the World Cup as Hong Kong's speedy win over PNG allowed Hong Kong to pass Scotland on the net run-rate tiebreaker. Scotland entered the final two overs needing 18 to win but a wide by Nehemiah Odhiambo was followed by a six off the bat of Taylor to bring the equation under a run a ball, and a World Cup berth was in sight. Taylor sealed the match with a pair of twos on the second and third deliveries of the final over, earning Scotland a return visit to New Zealand next year and dashing Hong Kong's dream of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time.
"It is absolutely awesome, we have worked really hard to get to this position and to actually get over the line is unbelievable. The feeling is immense," Mommsen said after the game. "We've had a bit of an absence, so to get back in there is unbelievable. The dressing room is very, very happy to say the least."
Khurram Khan once again steered UAE to a total that couldn't be overhauled in a 36-run win over Namibia at Rangiora to clinch the UAE's second World Cup berth and first since 1996. UAE won the toss and elected to bat first as Khan (49) was one of three players to get into the 40s without reaching 50 in UAE's total of 263. The score was 216 for 5 with two balls to go in the 45th but Louis Klazinga wiped out the tail, taking four of the last five wickets to fall, as Namibia bowled out UAE with one ball remaining in the innings.
Namibia got off to a slow start in reply as captain Sarel Burger crawled to a half-century, eventually getting dismissed for 54 off 102 balls. Amjad Javed claimed 3 for 35 while Khan completed his solid all-round display with 2 for 45 to restrict Namibia to 227 for 9 in their 50 overs.
"You can't describe in words the feeling. I've been playing for UAE since 2001 and it is an amazing feeling to help my team to qualify," Khurram later reflected. "It's a great achievement. It's been very, very hard to make it this far. Most of us are part time cricketers - we are not professionals. This is for everyone who trusted us and believed in us."
Hong Kong completed a furious charge to a three-wicket win over Papua New Guinea at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in a valiant effort to overtake Scotland on net run rate, but did not get the extra help they needed from Kenya to vault into the top two on the Super Sixes table. PNG won the toss and elected to bat first as Geraint Jones made his first major contribution of the tournament to top score with 82 for PNG in their total of 255 for 8. Haseeb Amjad finished with 3 for 70 in 10 overs to extend his tournament tally to 20 wickets, the most in the tournament.
Irfan Ahmed spearheaded a frenetic chase with 90 off 82 balls including four sixes before he was dismissed in the 29th over with the score on 193 for 3. Mark Chapman anchored Hong Kong after Irfan's departure with 64 off 50 balls as other batsmen fell around him while attempting to slog their way to the target as quickly as possible to eclipse Scotland's net run rate. Chapman was run-out 11 runs short of the target but player-coach Mark Wright and Amjad finished the job, with Hong Kong reaching victory on the first ball of the 37th over after Wright swatted a ball to the mid-wicket boundary.
Scotland and UAE will now contest the tournament final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval on Saturday. The winner will join England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Afghanistan in Group A at the 2015 World Cup while the loser will slot into Group B alongside South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland.