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Irfan Bhatti and Mohammad Murad starred with bat and ball as Kuwait lifted the ICC WCL Division 7 trophy in Gaborone, Botswana, comprehensively beating Nigeria by 72 runs.
Kuwait's top and lower orders were solid enough to ensure they didn't suffer due to a middle order collapse that saw four wickets fall for 24 runs to seamer Olajide Bejide. Bhatti had started strongly in a 66-run opening stand and struck nine fours and a six in his 60 off 77 deliveries before he fell to Joshua Ogunlola. Kuwait soon slipped from 91 for 1 to 129 for 6 as Bejide ran through the middle order. But Mohammed Naseer and Azmatullah Nazeer revived the innings with a 44-run partnership. Some late hitting from Abdullah Akhunzada and Midhun Pakalapati took Kuwait past 200.
Murad bowled Ademola Onikoyi off the third ball of the chase and Nigeria were on the back foot soon at 35 for 3. Ramit Gill (45) and Sean Philips (35) tried to revive the innings in a busy 56-run stand but Pakalapati got the breakthrough, bowling Gill. Nigeria ran out of steam after that and Nazeer had Philips caught behind to effectively seal it. Murad returned to mop up the tail, finishing with 4 for 20, and Nigeria were shot out for 147. Murad was named Player of the Tournament for his 15 wickets. Both teams had already qualified for Division 6.
Hisham Mirza, the winning captain, said he did not think Kuwait were favourites coming in to the tournament. "It wasn't our home tournament and the only side we had background on was Germany, having played them in Division 8. I don't think I can single out one player that performed for me as we are very much a team effort. However, I will mention my fast bowlers, they've been the best in Division 7 and Division 8 in my opinion. They are quick, they are good."
Division 6 would not be easy for Kuwait, Mirza felt, saying that they needed to make sure they were better prepared for the event that takes place in Malaysia in September.
Endurance Ofem, the Nigeria captain, said that his side had achieved their purpose of gaining promotion. "The good thing is we've played Kuwait twice now so we now know what to expect of them when we face them in Division 6. Our player-coach Sean Philips has done a lot for us as a side and Segun Olayinka has come up with the goods for us in the last three games, contributing two half-centuries in the tournament, and of course Ademola Onikoyi, who had given us good starts upfront."
Rana-Javed Iqbal and Shakeel Hassan took four quick wickets to break the back of Botswana's chase and took Germany to a 25-run win in the third-place play-off, after Asif Khan's hundred had lifted his side to a challenging 269.
Noor Ahmad (74) had led Botswana's chase, adding 64 for the first wicket, 61 for the second, and 50 for the fourth with Faisal Rana, Denzil Sequeira and Karabo Modise. At 180 for 3, Botswana needed 90 at a run a ball. But Iqbal got Ahmad leg before, and Hassan took two more as Botswana slumped to 189 for 7. The lower order tried but Germany finished the innings in the 49th over at 244.
Asif and Rishi Pillai (67 not out) had earlier helped Germany recover from an indifferent start that had reduced them to 63 for 3. The duo added 146 in 135 balls for the fifth wicket as Germany surged to 269, which proved to be just enough in the end.
Norway brushed Japan aside by 56 runs in the fifth-place play-off as Japan stuttered to 169 for 9 chasing 225. Contributions from Gulfam Butt, Shahid Ahmed and Adeel Ibrar formed the bulk of Norway's total, and wicketkeeper Iftikhar Suhail ensured they got well past 200.
Japan never got going after losing Gavin Beath off the first ball and were in danger of being bowled out for under 100 at 83 for 9. Patrick Giles-Jones' unbeaten 68 and his last-wicket partnership with Raheel Kano more than doubled Japan's score from that position. It was in vain, though, as it only reduced the margin of defeat. Both sides had already been relegated to Division 8.