Afghanistan, Namibia continue winning ways
Led by Karim Sadiq, Afghanistan kept their quest for a spot in the ICC World Twenty20 on track with a third straight win in the T20 qualifier, this one an 89-run thumping of Denmark at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the UAE. Sadiq was the star at the top of the order, blasting his way to 91 from just 60 deliveries. He was particularly harsh on legspinner Bobby Chawla, whom he smashed for three of his five sixes. After setting up his side's total of 172 for 5, Sadiq then turned destroyer with his offspin, ripping through the heart of Denmark's batting line-up to leave them tottering at 40 for 7 in the 11th over. Three of Sadiq's four victims were bowled, while the other was trapped leg-before. He finished with figures of 4 for 14 as Denmark were restricted to 83 for 9.
A clinical performance from Canada helped them beat Hong Kong by eight wickets at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai. Having chosen to bat first, Hong Kong got off to a horrific start as Junaid Siddiqui knocked over their top order to have them limping at 17 for 4 after four overs. Opener Babar Hayat waged a lone battle, top scoring with 36, but received no support as eight batsmen scored in single figures. Hong Kong's' total of 81 for 8 was never going to threaten Canada and Hiral Patel made sure there were no nervous moments in the chase with a run-a-ball 40 at the top of the order as Canada cruised home with six overs to spare.
Netherlands survived a scare from underdogs Bermuda before getting their second win of the qualifiers, in Abu Dhabi. Netherlands had been kept to 125 but took wickets regularly in the chase to keep control. At 96 for 8, Bermuda looked out of the game, but Rodney Trott struck four boundaries in his 18 off seven balls, to get Bermuda to within four runs of Netherlands' total. Luckily for Netherlands, 21-year-old quick Timm van der Gugten's four-wicket spell had done enough damage to ensure Trott's blitz and Steven Outerbridge's steady 34 not out were not enough. Netherlands are also indebted to Michael Swart, whose 53 off 51 was integral to them reaching a competitive total. Swart's knock had helped get Netherlands to 92 for 3, but a collapse of 33 for six wickets followed, and the match ended up being closer than Netherlands may have hoped.
Papua New Guinea picked up their first win of the tournament with a 35-run victory over Nepal in Sharjah. Chris Amini top-scored with 38 after Papua New Guinea were put into bat and then took 2 for 20 as Nepal fell well short of their target of 138. Papua New Guinea's six bowlers all claimed wickets as only three Nepal batsmen made it to double figures - Prithu Baskota's run-a-ball 36 not out from No. 6 coming too late to avert defeat. Geraint Jones, the former England Test wicketkeeper, helped anchor the Papua New Guinea innings with a brisk 32 before Jack Vare's eight-ball 19 and some six-hitting from Amini turned a challenging total into an unattainable one.
Namibia continued their impressive run in the tournament with a 17-run victory over USA at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground No 2 in Dubai. This time it was opener Raymond van Schoor who led the way for Namibia, batting through the innings to make 79 from 55 balls. Louis van der Westhuizen, their centurion in the last game, managed only 4 this time, but Craig Williams kept Schoor company in a 56-run partnership for the third wicket. Williams departed for 41 with the score 126 for 3 and Nicholaas Scholtz soon followed but Sarel Burger and Schoor plundered 44 runs from the last 3.1 overs to lead Namibia to 177 for 4. USA lost two wickets in the first two overs and never quite recovered. Aditya Mishra made a valiant 53 and Orlando Baker added 38 but the target was always just out of reach after their poor start.
Scotland picked up their second win, beating the previously undefeated Uganda by 34 runs in Dubai, with Calum MacLeod once again top-scoring. MacLeod's 45 off 34 balls gave Scotland a brisk start and the middle-order batsmen all made contributions towards the total of 170, with Gordon Goudie's 26 off 10 balls, including three sixes, giving the run-rate a significant boost. Uganda started the chase well but the pressure of the challenging target told and wickets began to fall regularly. Majid Haq took 3 for 18 in his four overs and fellow offspinner Preston Mommsen bagged three wickets too as Scotland eased to victory.
There was also a first win for Kenya, as their batsmen ran amok to pile up 176 against Oman in Dubai. Despite a solid chase, Oman were never really in the hunt, with Kenya's spinners taking wickets at regular intervals to ensure a 35-run victory. The win was built on a 105-run opening stand in 13.1 overs between Duncan Allan and Alex Obanda, who both scored half-centuries, before Rakep Patel blasted his way to 33 off 16 balls, with four sixes. Adnan Ilyas got the Oman reply off to a good start with 35 off 27 balls, including six boundaries, but the Ngoche brothers, Shem and James, and captain Collins Obuya each claimed two wickets and only some late hitting from Nos. 9 and 10 allowed Oman to see out their overs.