Uganda and Argentina earn promotion after reaching ICC World Cricket League Division 3 final in Darwin
Uganda and Argentina secured wins that took them through to the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division 3 in Darwin, Australia, on Thursday and those wins, against Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Cayman Islands respectively, have also ensured their promotion to November's Division 2 to be played in Namibia.
Uganda held its nerve to beat PNG by one wicket with four balls to spare at Tracy Village while Argentina enjoyed a more comfortable success as it defeated the Cayman Islands by four wickets at Gardens.
Keneth Kamyuka was Uganda's star as the all-rounder scored a priceless unbeaten 43 from 53 balls and added an unbroken 16 runs for the last wicket with Charles Waiswa. The African side reached its 204-run target with four balls to spare as Waiswa finished unbeaten on nought.
Lawrence Sematimba (30) and Junior Kwebiha (22) had earlier rescued the African nation from complete collapse after it slumped from 75-1 to 96-5. Roger Mukasa (43) and captain Joel Olweny (36) added 75 for the second wicket after Uganda lost a wicket from the first ball of its innings.
Jamie Brazier produced outstanding bowling figures of 10-4-17-4 and John Ovia was also impressive with 3-41 but both still ended up on the losing side.
Earlier, Mahuru Dai played a quality innings of 86 from 93 balls with five fours and two sixes that propelled PNG to 203 for six. Dai put on 73 for the fourth wicket with Ovia (43) and 90 for the fifth wicket with Assad Vala (40 not out).
Uganda captain Joel Olweny said a place in the final meant mission accomplished for his team.
"Obviously now we want to win the final and have immediately set our eyes at Argentina, but for the time being we want to enjoy this achievement because when we left our shores, the target was to qualify for the final and earn a place in Division 2," he said.
"It has been a very tense and pressurized match and the boys have more than one reason to celebrate. The boys really deserve it."
Olweny praised the mental toughness of his team but expressed his unhappiness with the performance of his batsmen.
"To their credit, they handled the pressure very well because it was not an easy game by any means. But I am not happy with the performance of my batsmen. They are much more talented and capable than what they have shown so far.
"The bowlers are doing a fine job and the fielders are really backing them. But I am hoping for an improved performance from my batters in the final," he said.
In the second semi-final, Argentinean captain Esteban MacDermott produced a man of the match performance when he captured four wickets for 20 runs to bowl out the Cayman Islands for 102 in 39.3 overs.
Steve Gordon, who scored a century in the opening game against Tanzania, top-scored with 38 while Saheed Mohamed (29) and Keniel Irving (19) were the other batsmen to reach double figures.
In turn, Argentina got to the target in the 35th over with Alejandro Ferguson remaining 25 not out and opener Grant Dugmore scoring 20. Franklin Hinds bowled well to claim 3-11.
MacDermott praised his team's comeback after defeat in the first game of the tournament.
"The boys could have easily lost focus or confidence after the one-wicket defeat against Italy. But they remained committed and stayed on track because they trusted their instincts. This is the reward for their dedication and continuous hard work," Esteban said.
"The credit for our promotion to Division 2 not only goes to the team but to the entire support staff and all those who backed us all the way. Our performance in the tournament shows how rapidly cricket is growing in our country where soccer remains the first-choice sport," he said.
In the plate semi-finals, Hong Kong registered its first win of the series when it beat Italy by 39 runs. Hong Kong, batting first, scored 195 in 50 overs and then dismissed Italy for 146 in 45 overs with skipper Ilyas Gull bagging 3-37 and Zaheer Abbas and Najeeb Amar scooping two wickets each.
In the plate final on Saturday, Hong Kong will face Tanzania which defeated Fiji by three wickets.
Scores in brief:
At Gardens, Argentina beat Cayman Islands by four wickets
Cayman Islands 102 in 39.3 overs (Steve Gordon 38, Saheed Mohamed 29, Keniel Irving 19, Esteban MacDermott 4-20)
Argentina 103-6 in 34.2 overs (Alejandro Ferguson 25 not out, Franklin Hinds 3-11)
At Tracy Village, Uganda beat PNG by one wicket
PNG 203-5 in 50 overs (Mahuru Dai 86, John Ovia 43, Assad Vala 40 not out).
Uganda 204-9 in 49.2 overs (Keneth Kamyuka 43 not out, Roger Mukasa 43, Joel Olweny 36, Lawrence Sematimba 30, Junior Kwebiha 22, Jamie Brazier 4-17, John Ovia 3-41)
At Marrara 2, Hong Kong beat Italy by 39 runs
Hong Kong 195 in 36 overs (Courtney Kruger 50, Irfan Ahmed 36, Nasir Hameed 36 not out Hussain Butt 20, Andy Northcote 3-35)
Italy 146 in 45 overs (Andy Northcote 47, Ilyas Gull 3-37)
At Marrara 1, Tanzania beat Fiji by three wickets
Fiji 173 (Iniasi Cakacaka 43, Benson Mwita 3-25)
Tanzania 176-7 in 44 overs (Athumani Kakonzi 59, Rajeev Patel 4-21)
About ICC WCL Division 3
This tournament is the latest step on the road to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 for the eight sides taking part. The top two sides in each of the two groups will go forward to the semi-finals and the finalists will earn a place in the ICC WCL Div. 2 in Windhoek, Namibia, in November.
A top-four finish there would mean a berth at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier (formerly the ICC Trophy) in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and with it the chance to secure a spot in the next ICC Cricket World Cup, on the Asian sub-continent.
Sami-ul-Hasan is ICC Communications Officer