United States of America 162 for 5 (Malhotra 66*, Abhiraj 2-24) beat Singapore 161 (Dutta 30, Netravalkar 3-19) by five wickets
'We believed in each other' - Netravalkar
USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar describes his team's feeling of gaining promotion to WCL Division Two for the first time
USA's struggles to get past WCL Division Three finally came to an end on Monday at the Oman Cricket Academy when they cruised to victory over Singapore by five wickets. After failing in four prior attempts - 2011 in Hong Kong, 2013 in Bermuda, 2014 in Malaysia and 2017 in Uganda - USA claimed the remaining promotion berth on offer, finishing second thanks to this win and joining Oman in Division Two next April in Namibia.
Needing to overcome a significant deficit behind USA at the start of the day on the net run rate tie-breaker, Singapore lost a crucial toss and were sent in to bat. Had they batted second, Singapore would have needed to chase any total in roughly 35 overs to overtake USA on the tie-breaker, but they struggled to pace their innings on a flat track.
Singapore got off to a solid start powered by Aritra Dutta, reaching 74 for 1 in 16 overs. At that stage, they were clearly targeting a score in excess of 250 as they would have needed to bowl out USA by a margin of at least 65 runs to beat them on net run rate. But they over-reached in their hyper-aggressive approach following the excellent early platform, and wound up crumbling for 161 in 43.1 overs.
Dutta fell on the first ball of the 17th over, missing a sweep to legspinner Timil Patel and was given leg before for 30, a sign of things to come for Singapore. Three overs later, Anish Paraam then charged left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige, who adjusted his length with a quicker ball that resulted in a simple stumping for 20.
The biggest blow to Singapore came in the 24th over when captain Chetan Suryawanshi tried to late cut Kenjige and chopped the ball into the ground seemingly through the vacant slip region and set off for a run. But wicketkeeper Jaskaran Malhotra knifed the ball off a short hop and whipped the bails off with Suryawanshi well out of his crease to make it 109 for 4. Singapore then went the next nine overs without a boundary as runs dried up through Timil and more legspin from Hayden Walsh.
Captain Saurabh Netravalkar's second spell put Singapore down for the count. He struck twice in the 40th over and then once more in the 44th for the final wicket, as Walsh helped him out on two of the three wickets with superb diving catches at extra cover.
Singapore then needed to hold USA to 96 or less in order to surpass USA's net run rate. But rather than opting to open with spin, an area USA had struggled with throughout the week, their medium-pacers were torn apart in the five-over session before lunch as USA reached 44 for 1, the lone wicket falling when spin was finally brought on in the last over before the break.
Back-to-back boundaries in the 17th over by Aaron Jones took USA past the promotion target of 96. The match target of 162 was eventually passed in the 26th over with a single over cover from Roy Silva. Malhotra ended the match unbeaten on 66.