Afghanistan storm into knockout phase
Dawlat Zadran's five-wicket haul helped Afghanistan demolish Hong Kong by nine wickets in Sharjah and confirm their place in the knockout rounds. Zadran took 5 for 14, and along with Izatullah Dawlatzai, who took 2 for 19, dismantled Hong Kong's batting line-up with only two batsmen getting into double figures. Irfan Ahmed scored 54 off 52 balls to provide some respectability to the total as Hong Kong finished on 103. Afghanistan's opener Karim Sadiq did not waste any time as he hit 20 runs off the first over during the chase. After Sadiq's dismissal for 22, Javed Ahmadi's 38 and Mohammad Shahzad's 43 prevented any further damage and finished the game in the 12th over.
In another low-scoring game, Netherlands beat Nepal by six wickets in Dubai, also sealing a berth in the knockouts. Nepal, who were put in to bat, had no answers to Netherlands' bowling as they were reduced to 25 for 5 after 11 overs. Michael Swart took 2 for 13 and Mudassar Bukhari took 1 for 9 to stifle Nepal. That was followed by similar spells by other bowlers as only one boundary was hit in the first 17 overs. Some frantic shots by Gyanendra Malla, who scored 32, and Basanta Regmi took Nepal to 85. While chasing, Netherlands lost four wickets, three of them to Regmi, but maintained a healthy scoring-rate to win the game inside 14 overs.
"I think Nepal has played some reasonable cricket in this competition, so we weren't taking them lightly," Netherlands captain Peter Borren said. "We bowled pretty well and they were always going to struggle to defend 86. It is going to be really difficult for us. The format of the tournament means, having lost to Afghanistan, if you are first in your group you have a huge advantage here."
Janeiro Tucker's hat-trick of sixes in the last over helped Bermuda steal a win against Papua New Guinea by five wickets in Dubai. Sixteen runs were required off the last six balls, but Tucker only needed three, the last six bringing up his half-century as well. The chase was setup by Dion Stovell's 31 off 24 balls and David Hemp's 30. However, when Rarva Dikana, who had given away 18 runs in his previous three overs, was given the ball in the last over, PNG looked favourites. But Tucker's last-minute violence earned Bermuda their first win in the tournament. Earlier, PNG had set Bermuda a competitive target of 156, courtesy a 31-ball 49 from Vani Morea. At one stage, PNG were tottering at 105 for 5 after 16.2 overs. But, 46 runs came off the last three to give PNG bowlers a defendable score. A victory for PNG would have given them an outside chance of making it to the knockouts, but this result means that both teams have failed to make it to the next stage.
"My personal performance was really outstanding today," Tucker said. "I haven't really had a good last four or five games, but today all came together.
"Hitting that last ball was amazing. That was always my intention to try to get us to victory in the last over. I guess our strategy for the last couple of games will be pretty much the same as today. We got a victory so I guess we've done something right."
Ruvindu Gunasekera scored a 65-ball 95 in Canada's 55-run win over bottom-placed Denmark in Abu Dhabi. With the heavy win, Canada are in a strong position to become the third team from the group to qualify for the next stage. Opting to bat first, the team was bolstered by a 109-run second wicket partnership between Gunasekera and Hiral Patel to post 178. In response, Denmark's Rizwan Mahmood hit 65 and Freddie Klokker scored 40 in a third-wicket partnership worth 84 runs. But Canada bowlers, led by Henry Osinde's 2 for 16 kept the scoring rate under control as Denmark finished on 123. Canada play Nepal in their last league game and barring a heavy defeat, they should finish third in the table.
Twenty20 is a tough format to be consistent in but Namibia have made victory a habit, winning their sixth game in row to stay on top of Group B. Despite being restricted to 120 for 7, Namibia beat Oman by 36 runs in Sharjah. Their total was set up by the captain, Sarel Burger, who made 53 off 44 balls. The defence was headed by Christi Viljoen, who took 4 for 8 in 3.4 overs, and Burger, who claimed 3 for 14 to cap a terrific all-round performance. Oman were dismissed for 84 in 18.4 overs.
A half-century by Richie Berrington helped Scotland ease to a seven-wicket win against Italy in Dubai. Italy were restricted to 136, thanks to a combined bowling effort. The Italy top order failed to convert their starts, with Gareth Berg top-scoring with 29. Majid Haq, the offspinner, finished with the best figures: 2 for 16 off four overs. Scotland lost Calum MacLeod early, but the stand of 76 between Berrington and Preston Mommsen put them on course for victory. Berrington's 67 contained six fours and three sixes. Scotland are currently third in Group B, and a win in their final group game, against United States of America, will guarantee them a place in the next round.
"The boys played very well today and bounced back after yesterday's game against Ireland. It takes a lot of character to come back and win today," Berrington said. "So, we're just focusing right now on every game and taking each game as it comes.
"It was very nice to spend a bit of time in the middle today and bat through most of the innings. I would have liked to have seen it through to the end, but the boys managed to put a few away."
United States of America slid to their fifth defeat in six games after they were demolished by nine wickets by Kenya in Abu Dhabi. The USA scorecard was littered with single-digit scores, with only their captain, Sushil Nadkarni, passing double figures. Nadkarni made 41 as opener and when he departed, USA were 73 for 6 in the 14th over. Ragheb Aga and and Nelson Odhiambo took three wickets each to dismiss USA in 18.2 overs. Kenya reached the target in ten overs, with Duncan Allan and Alex Obanda scoring 34 each. They will need to beat Uganda in their final group game, and hope other results go their way, to qualify for the next phase.
Ireland trounced Uganda by 82 runs in Dubai to put them in the playoff stages of the World Cup qualifiers. Read the full report here.