Northcote-inspired Italy sense promotion
Italy have set up an exciting finish to the World Cricket League Division 4 after beating Tanzania by nine wickets.
If Italy win their final match against Afghanistan tomorrow, and Hong Kong beat Jersey, both sides will be guaranteed promotion to Division 3 - even though Afghanistan are unbeaten - owing to their superior run-rate.
Andy Northcote was again the star for Italy, picking up two cheap wickets before cracking 71. Tanzania's batsmen struggled, managing 135, and only Rishen Patel (46) offered any resistance. Northcote was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 19 from his ten overs, and was given good support by Gayashan de Silva (2 for 29) and HS Jayasena (2 for 36).
Chasing 136 Italy romped home, with Northcote scorching nine fours in his 115-ball 71. He is comfortably the tournament's top-scorer, averaging 100.50 in the four matches so far, and a strong contender for the Man-of-the-Tournament award.
"I can't tell you how happy I am today," said Northcote. "The most important thing is we have one game to go and we have to win it. It will be tough tomorrow but we can do it."
The Italy coach and captain, Joe Scuderi, believes tomorrow's match-up will be an exciting game and admitted he has been impressed by Afghanistan's side. "Afghanistan has got a fairly solid all-round team. They have some good batters, some quick bowlers and a couple of good spinners as well. We'll need to be firing on all cylinders," said Scuderi. "We played against them in a warm-up game when we lost by three runs but we've now won three in a row.
"It's basically a grand final. I know they talk of the final being on Saturday but for us the final is tomorrow."