USA, Italy, Tanzania make it three wins in four games
USA bounced back from their defeat against Italy with a sound performance to put it past Nepal in Pianoro. Sushil Nadkarni, the stand-out batsman in the tournament, held USA's indifferent innings together with an unbeaten 64, and in the process marched to his third Man-of-the-Match performance in four games. Nepal's bowlers struck at regular intervals but Nadkarni coaxed enough support from his partners to take the score past 200.
Nepal's chase ran into rough weather early and from 31 for 4 in the 14th over, it was a long road back. Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla kept trying during a 69-run stand, but USA's bowlers shut out the challenge in clinical fashion, Muhammad Ghous and Usman Shuja finishing with three wickets each before Nepal were bowled out 55 runs short.
Massiah was happy with the win, but was keen on maintaining the momentum. "I'm obviously very happy with today performance but we can't rest on our laurels, it's important that we win tomorrow against Argentina and continue our winning momentum into the final," he said.
Italy continued their impressive run, surging to their third win in four games when they trumped Cayman Islands by 47 runs in Medicina. Italy lost an early wicket after electing to bat but Andy and Nic Northcote retrieved the situation with a 77-run stand in 13.5 overs. When Andy fell for a 57-ball 54, the platform had been laid for a big score. Given the start, the rest of the cast under-achieved and it was left to Nic's boundary-less 70 off 120 balls to lead the score to 233.
Cayman Islands were in trouble once they lost their openers for a combined contribution of one run to Gayashan Munasinghe's seamers. Pearson Best played impressively for an 103-ball 85 and he got reasonable support from Saheed Mohammad and Ronald Ebanks, but the lower middle-order did not quite come to the party. Munasinghe added two tail-end wickets to his tally and finished with 4 for 20 as Cayman Islands folded for 186.
Man of the match Andy admitted that his side was nervous in the middle stages of the chase. "I definitely thought at one point that the Cayman Islanders still had a massive chance to beat us when they were 100 or so for three especially with Pearson Best's 85 which was a great knock but our fielding was on target which meant we struck the run outs just when we needed them to regain the upper hand," he said.
Tanzania had to work hard but eventually prevailed by three wickets in Navile to hand Argentina their fourth succesive defeat and consequently relegation from Division Four. Argentina began reasonably well before running into a red-hot Kassim Nassoro who scythed through their line-up to finish with six wickets. Matias Paterlini and Grant Dugmore were dismissed after getting starts but the rest of the cast floundered against Nassoro, and Riziki Kiseto who picked two wickets.
Chasing 198, Tanzania were quickly in the dumps losing Enjo Kiongozi and Shaheed Dhanani for ducks. Seif Khalifa went after the bowling in a withering assault that in the end analysis made the difference between victory and defeat. With wickets tumbling at the other end, Khalife chanced his arm, smacking three sixes and nine fours in a 41-ball 73 before he was the fourth man out with the score 97. Argentina's bowlers, led by Diego Lord, rallied well and at 126 for 7, Tanzania were staring defeat. However, Benson Mwita and Khalil Rehmtullah had other ideas, and put together an unbroken 72-run stand in 14.2 overs to seal the game.
Tanzania captain Hamisi Abdullah savoured his side's victory. "Today was a great win for us and I feel we're continuing to improve as a side. When we first came in to this tournament I think we were a little nervous, especially looking back at our first defeat to USA but once we beat Nepal and realised what we are capable of as a team it's given us the impetus to keep getting better," he said.
The results have opened a four-way tussle between USA, Tanzania, Nepal and Italy for qualification to Division Three.