Afghanistan secure World Twenty20 berth
Afghanistan ensured they will appear at the ICC World Twenty20 for the second competition running with a comprehensive win over previously unbeaten Namibia in Dubai. Victory by 47 runs booked Afghanistan a place in the final of the qualifying tournament, where they could meet Namibia again; they will play either Ireland or Netherlands - who both won their first play-off games earlier in the day - for the second berth on offer for the 2012 World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Having chosen to bat, Afghanistan were dismissed off the final ball of their innings for 146. Against big-scoring Namibia, other sides may have felt that score was barely enough - but Afghanistan have swept all before them in the last week and the bowlers blew away their opponents' dangerous top order, effectively ending Namibia's hopes at 18 for 4 after four overs. Dawlat Zadran was the destroyer-in-chief, taking 3 for 1 in his opening two-over spell, including the wicket of Raymond van Schoor, the tournament's leading runscorer, for a first-ball duck. Gerrie Snyman was also dismissed for 0 in the same over, before Dawlat had Craig Williams caught behind and Aftab Alam - who went on to claim 4 for 25 - removed Louis van der Westhuizen, ensuring that none of the top four made double figures.
After that opening blitz, Namibia's hopes were in tatters and they were eventually bundled out for 99. Their struggles put into perspective Afghanistan's score, with several batsmen getting in and then out. Karim Sadiq and Javid Ahmadi put on 57 for the opening wicket in 6.3 overs but they both fell in quick succession as Sarel Burger claimed three for 16 from his four overs. With boundaries drying up - Afghanistan managed 10 fours and no sixes - Asghar Stanikzai and Mohammad Nabi chipped away lower down the order. In the end, their efforts proved more than enough.
Netherlands edged out Scotland by three wickets at the ICC Global Cricket Academy to set up a meeting with Ireland in the next stage. Chasing 167 to win, Netherlands looked in control thanks to a steady hand from Tom Cooper, but his dismissal for 60 left them requiring 15 from the last two overs, with seven wickets down. The tension was broken swiftly, however, as Tim Gruijters smashed his second ball for six, with 11 runs coming off the penultimate over bowled by Kyle Coetzer, before Tom de Grooth's top-edged four sealed victory with five balls to spare. Scotland, coming off a surprise group-stage defeat to USA, had earlier given themselves a chance of an upset thanks to another impressive opening stand between Richie Berrington and Calum MacLeod. They put on 59 in 6.3 overs before Berrington's departure for 37, with MacLeod - a former bowler - going on to pass 50 for the third time in the tournament. Netherlands' spinners slowed the scoring in the later stages though, with Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar and Peter Borren each picking up two wickets as the Dutch kept the target down.
Nepal beat Kenya by five wickets and two balls to spare to win a semi-final for the seventh place play-off in Dubai. After choosing to bat, Kenya were restricted to 139 for 4. Their captain Collins Obuya top scored with 52 off 42 balls. Basanta Regmi took 3 for 23 for Nepal, while Shakti Gauchan conceded only 19 in four overs. Nepal's openers gave the chase a steady start, adding 64 in ten overs and their captain Paras Khadka remained unbeaten on 26 to secure the victory. Nepal's chase was aided by 17 extras.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) defended a modest total of 118 for 9 against Italy to win the other semi-final for the seventh place play-off in Dubai. Damian Crowley took 4 for 18 to limit PNG after they chose to bat, while Carl Sandri claimed 2 for 18. Opener Tony Ura (37) was the only PNG batsman to make it past 20 and the innings was floundering at 69 for 6 before the tail propped the total past 100. PNG's bowlers, however, bowled economically and struck regularly to hinder the Italy chase. Hitolo Areni took 3 for 9 in four overs, and had support from the new-ball attack, Willie Gavera and Rarva Dikana. Italy slipped from the comfortable position of 81 for 3 in 14.4 overs and were restricted to 106 for 7 in 20 overs.
Hong Kong beat Uganda by five wickets to win one 11th place play-off semi-final in Sharjah. After putting Uganda in, Hong Kong restricted them to 130 for 8. Apart from the openers, Roger Mukasa and Arthur Kyobe, no Uganda batsman made more than 20. Irfan Ahmed to 3 for 32 for Hong Kong, while Roy Lamsam took 1 for 15 in four overs. Ahmed then scored an unbeaten 55 to lead the chase, while Waqas Barkat and Jamie Atkinson made 31 and 30. Hong Kong slipped in the later part of the innings, losing four wickets for eight runs, but still reached the target with four balls to spare.
USA beat Bermuda by 34 runs after a powerful batting performance to win the second semi-final for the 11th place play-off in Sharjah. They amassed 193 for 5 after choosing to bat; Steven Taylor made 38 off 22 balls, Sushil Nadkarni 48 off 30 and Orlando Baker 39 off 32 deliveries. The least expensive Bermuda bowler was Joshua Gilbert, who conceded 8.33 an over. During Bermuda's chase, Lionel Cann struck three sixes and four fours in his 73 off 47 balls but got poor support from his team-mates. Muhammad Ghous took 2 for 20 for USA, while Abhimanyu Rajp and Almore Hutchinson also took two wickets apiece. Bermuda were restricted to 159 for 8 in 20 overs.
After losing all seven of their Group B matches, Oman beat Denmark by 17 runs in the 15th place play-off. Oman chose to bat and their openers, Zeeshan Siddiqui and Jatinder Singh, made half-centuries in first-wicket partnership of 113. After that stand was broken in the 14th over, though, Oman's momentum slipped and they finished on 155 for 5. Denmark were well placed in their chase, having reached 109 for 2 in the 15th over, but then lost frequent wickets to finish on 138 for 6. Hemal Mehta was Oman's most successful bowler, taking 3 for 29 in four overs, while Amir Kaleem took 1 for 11 in three.