Oman are one step closer to replicating Afghanistan's dramatic rise up the WCL ladder from 2008-09 after they stormed past Malaysia by 131 runs at Lugogo Stadium to top the WCL Division Three table. The result helped them secure their third consecutive promotion.
Naseem Khushi was the latest player to make hay with the short boundaries at Lugogo, smashing four fours and eight sixes in an unbeaten 77 off 30 balls in a late surge that took Oman to 293 for 7, after they had been sent in. It was the third fifty of the innings and the quickest after 61 off 76 balls from Aqib Ilyas and 51 off 69 balls from captain Sultan Ahmed.
Malaysia went pedal to the medal early in their chase in a desperate attempt to both win and do it fast enough to take their net run rate above Uganda and USA in order to avoid relegation. They reached 94 for 3 in 10.4 overs on the back of opener Anwar Arudin's 33-ball fifty. His innings, however, ended when slingy fast bowler Munis Ansari had him caught behind for 57 off 35 balls at the end of the over. Malaysia subsided meekly thereafter to be bowled out for 162 in 33.1 overs.
Ansari, who had struggled all tournament with just one wicket coming into the match, ended with 4 for 47 while legspinning allrounder Khawar Ali wiped out the tail to finish with 5 for 23.
Singapore completed a sweep of the North American contingent at Division Three with a two-run win over Canada at Kyambogo Oval. Canada still gained promotion despite an equal 3-2 record with Singapore thanks to a vastly superior net run rate, the tournament tiebreaker, while Singapore's win ensured they avoided relegation.
Their net run rate was worse than both USA and Uganda at 2-3, so a loss would have sent them back to Division Four but Canada collapsed with victory in sight. Chasing 167, they lost their last four wickets for 17 runs to be all out for 164 with 12 overs left unused.
Singapore's innings was anchored by Anish Paraam's 58 off 75 balls at No. 3 after they had been sent in. But when he fell to to Bhavindu Adhihetty in the 32nd over to make it 147 for 7, Singapore's tail lasted less than five overs, before they were wiped out by Adhihetty and Saad Bin Zafar, who finished with 3 for 10 and 2 for 39 respectively.
Canada's chase got off to a rocky start when Adhihetty fell for a duck off the third ball and they lost wickets at regular intervals thereafter. Allrounder Rizwan Cheema looked set to take Canada over the line with 42 off 35 balls, including five fours and two sixes, but he fell to Anantha Krishna with eight needed to win. The legspinner kept his composure under pressure to also dismiss Hamza Tariq and then Saad Bin Zafar with just four needed to win to put Singapore one wicket away from victory.
Canada only lasted two more balls before last man Cecil Pervez was run out, going for a second run off Krishna, ensuring Singapore were spared relegation in dramatic fashion.
USA saved their place in Division Three in similarly dramatic circumstances with a 13-run win over Uganda at Entebbe, sending the hosts back to Division Four.
Set a target of 146 to win, Uganda needed to get to 141 in spite of a loss to stay above USA on net run rate. But USA's spinners wreaked havoc on a track offering significant turn with Steven Taylor taking 5 for 32.
When Taylor dismissed Frank Nsubuga for the ninth wicket in the 30th over, Uganda still needed 27 runs to overtake USA on net run rate and they nearly did it as tailender Henry Ssenyondo provided valiant support, lasting 42 balls, to captain Davis Karashani. With Taylor, Mrunal Patel (1 for 27) and Nosthush Kenjige (2 for 43) all bowled out, Taylor tossed the ball to pacer Jessy Singh for a steady diet of yorkers until one finally broke through Karashani's defense and clipped leg stump to finish off Uganda for 132 in 43 overs.
Though Taylor claimed five wickets, it was Elmore Hutchinson who took home the Man-of-the-Match honors after hitting 52 off 50 balls from No. 9. USA had been reduced to 104 for 9 in the 44th over but Hutchinson scored 39 out of the last 41 runs in a 10th wicket stand with Kenjige. The last over of the innings saw Hutchinson strike two fours and a six off Jonathan Sebanja in a back-breaking sequence that ended up being the difference in keeping USA up and sending the hosts down.
Oman will play Canada in the tournament final at Lugogo on Tuesday. USA will face Singapore in the third place match at Kyambogo while Uganda and Malaysia will square off at Entebbe in the fifth place playoff on the same day.