Namibia march into final, PNG win thriller
Namibia pulled off a tight chase against Hong Kong at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai to finish second in the World Cricket League Division 2 points table and set up a final showdown with UAE. Hong Kong's decision to bat backfired as they lost Roy Lamsam and Hussain Butt without scoring, against opening bowler Louis Klazinga. Mark Chapman steadied the innings with 31, but Hong Kong's recovery was masterminded by Nizakat Khan who slammed three sixes and seven fours in his 95 off 94 balls. The lower order could not contribute much and they were bowled out for 237, with Klazinga finishing with 5 for 50.
Namibia's chase began well, with the openers adding 42 in 8.4 overs, but three quick wickets put them on the back foot. Gerrie Snyman and Raymond van Schoor steadied soaked the pressure with half-centuries and their 91-run stand put Namibia on course, though the required-rate began to rise. Louis van der Westhuizen calmed the nerves by slugging two fours and two sixes in his 36 off 20 balls, as Namibia won with an over to spare.
Papua New Guinea registered a thrilling one-run win against Uganda in their last group match. Playing for a possible spot in the tournament's final - which they were ultimately denied courtesy Namibia's win - PNG did not get off to an ideal start after electing to bat, losing opener Christopher Kent for a golden duck. The wickets continued to fall in a hurry, as none of the top-order batsmen barring Asad Vala were able to get going. Once Vala was run out for 43 by Arthur Kyobe, leaving PNG tottering at 131 for 7, it was left to the tail to add respectability to the total. They produced a string of handy cameos to push PNG to 186. Uganda's bowlers shared the wickets around, but left-arm pacer Charles Waisa was the pick, finishing with 3 for 46.
Uganda's chase got off to a decent start, with opener Roger Mukasa steady at one end. Uganda were 82 for two in the 20th over, before Mukasa's run out for 63 triggered a mini-collapse - the team lost three wickets on 106, to end the 27th over 106 for 6. Rarva Dikana fashioned the mid-innings slide, snagging two wickets in the same over. Davis Arinaitwe (41 not out) and Ronald Ssemanda (24) then staged a revival with a fifty partnership, before two more wickets fell leaving Uganda needing 3 runs off the last ball with one wicket in hand. PNG managed to restrict the last ball to a single, winning the nail-biter by a run. PNG will take on Hong Kong in the third-place play-off on April 15.
Having confirmed their spot in the finals, UAE completed their league commitments with a comprehensive win against Bermuda at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. UAE chose to bat and their top-order chipped in with significant contributions to push the score to 257. Amjad Ali was the only batsman to score a half-century, while Saqib Ali contributed 42. Fine other batsmen were dismissed in the 20s, but ensured the momentum never flagged. Irving Romaine was the pick of the bowlers, as he claimed 6 for 37.
Dion Stovell anchored Bermuda's chase with 77 runs, but the rest of the batting caved in against some incisive bowling from Arshad Ali, Ahmed Raza and Nasir Aziz who combined to pick 9 for 116 in 29 overs. Bermuda's reply folded in the 48th over, as they fell 43 runs short.