Kevin O'Brien takes Ireland to final
Ireland eased to their fourth consecutive win in the World Cricket League Division One, beating Canada by five wickets in Amstelveen, to book their place in the tournament final. Canada will take on Kenya on Saturday for the fifth place.
The Ireland win was set up by an all-round effort from Kevin O'Brien, who bagged two wickets to limit Canada to 154 and then followed up with an unbeaten 43 to steer his team home. During the Canada innings, O'Brien had been supported by George Dockrell and Andrew White, who bagged two wickets each, and the chase was made easier by way of an unbeaten 63-run stand with John Mooney, who made 44.
Ireland saw through two periods of recovery that helped secure their win. The Canadian middle order got starts but the bowlers hit back, and during the chase, Ireland had been struggling at 92 for 5 between O'Brien and Mooney stepped up.
Netherlands' hopes of reaching the final of a home tournament were dealt a major setback, as Afghanistan beat them comfortably by six wickets in Voorburg. Tom Cooper starred for the hosts with his maiden ODI century, but was short of support from the other end as Netherlands only managed a below-par 202. Cooper struck a patient century, off 155 balls, but seamer Khaliq Dad's three-wicket haul had kept Netherlands in check.
Afghanistan began on a poor note, losing their first two wickets with just eight on the board, but opener Karim Sadiq and wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad led a recovery. Shahzad made a 63-ball 55, and captain Nowroz Mangal consolidated the good work with an unbeaten 67. His knock was an attacking one, coming off 53 balls, laced with 10 fours and a six. He added an unfinished 93 with Asghar Stanikzai, who batted patiently during his 28, to seal victory with 45 balls to spare.
Kenya slid to their fourth-successive defeat, falling six runs short in a low-scoring encounter against Scotland in Rotterdam. It was slow going as Scotland, led by Fraser Watts' fifty, managed 172 for 8 in their 50 overs, but Matthew Parker's four-wicket haul ensured it was just enough, and earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. Scotland got off to a steady start, with the openers adding 41. However, they were in need of a recovery at 74 for 4, and Watts and Moneeb Iqbal provided that with a stand of 73. Watts hit only two fours in his half-century, and was bowled by Thomas Odoyo shortly after reaching the milestone. The lower order couldn't accelerate towards the end but managed to bat out their allotment of overs without getting bowled out. Odoyo and James Ngoche were the best bowlers for Kenya, taking three wickets apiece.
Lack of solid partnerships at the top left Kenya struggling in their chase. Alex Obanda made 39 but after he was dismissed, bowled by Richie Berrington, Kenya stuttered. Jimmy Kamande and Odoyo added 42 to revive hopes but Ross Lyons removed them both to leave Kenya in trouble at 110 for 7. Two further strikes by Parker made it 115 for 9, but the last-wicket pair of Nelson Odhiambo and Ngoche didn't give up so easily. They battled till the 49th over before Gordon Drummond clean bowled Odhiambo to seal a close game for Scotland.
Today's victories by Afghanistan and Scotland have set-up a virtual semi-final between the two sides in Rotterdam. Both are tied on three wins each, and the winner will progress to the final while the losing side will take on the Netherlands on Saturday in the third and fourth place play-off.