Denmark's 30-run win over United States of America at the Mission Road ground in Mong Kok was the story of the second day of the World Cricket League Division Three tournament. Michael Pedersen played a true captain's knock for his team, holding the innings together with an unbeaten 78, and followed that up with four wickets as USA were bowled out for 163 in pursuit of Denmark's 193 for 6.
In the lowest scoring fixture of the day, Denmark were put in to bat on a fine and sunny day and the top order put 50 runs on the board before opener Freddie Klokker had his stumps rearranged by medium-pacer Orlando Baker. After Yasir Iqbal departed for 31 it was left to Pedersen to guide his side to a respectable total, with no other batsman scoring more than 13. He eased past fifty and maintained his composure as wickets fell at the other end, facing 123 balls and hitting nine fours.
USA weren't particularly impressive in the field, missing key opportunities that allowed Denmark to score more runs than they otherwise would have. Their bowling attack - Muhammad Ghous apart - was at least economical, with left-arm spinner Asif Khan picking up 2 for 31.
Carl Wright launched USA's chase with an aggressive 43 and it appeared the team's tactic would be to waste no time in getting past the low total. Denmark's opening bowlers bore the brunt of their attack, but USA paid the price for their approach as wickets fell at regular intervals and it was spin that proved their undoing. Pedersen provided crucial breakthroughs with the wickets of Wright, Lennox Cush for a 14-ball 16 and Rashard Marshall for 31. Legspinner Bobby Chawla then ran through the lower order, picking up 4 for 32 and removing Kevin Darlington lbw to seal the result.
"I think in the first hour or so we played well making 40-odd runs and I was pleased with how Freddie Klokker and Yasir Iqbal performed," said Pedersen, who was named Man of the Match. "But once the newness of the ball had worn off and it began to lose some of its pace I think our batsmen found it harder to score runs, especially with the USA bowling so straight and not leaving much room for manoeuvre. I felt I had to really sit in and grind out my innings giving the others the opportunities so that we could make a decent total. I think we were also aided in making our total by some poor fielding by the USA who missed at least one sitter of a catch."
Pedersen added his side's game-plan, when it came to the bowling, was what really paid off for the team today. "The team had a game plan when we took to the field and once we'd taken the pace off the ball after the first 12 overs the USA started to come at the ball.
"Bobby's bowling was brilliant today and as for myself, I think I was pretty lucky with some of my wickets with some good catches being taken by my fielders. This tournament is wide open now which I think is great. We weren't the favourites in today's game and today's results show no team is unbeatable. I feel we've got ourselves accustomed to the conditions and are now playing the way we should be at this event."
Papua New Guinea completed their second win in two days, beating Italy by 32 runs at Hong Kong Cricket Club. In another low-scoring game Jason Kila's innings of 46 proved vital to PNG's total of 209, while they were also helped by some sloppy bowling from the Italians as 24 wides were conceded. Peter Petricola was once again the pick of Italy's attack, taking 4 for 38, but he could do nothing to counter a committed team performance from PNG's bowlers as Italy were bowled out for 172 in the 44th over.
Despite their inaccuracy, Italy's bowlers had reduced PNG to 105 for 6 before they encountered some gritty lower-order resistance. Wicketkeeper Jack Vare made a patient 28 in helping to add 61 for the seventh wicket - the highest partnership in either innings - while Kila struck four fours and a six before he was caught behind to prompt a capitulation from the tail.
PNG captain Rarua Dikana shone with the ball, claiming 3 for 24 with his medium pacers and taking the all-important wickets of opener Andy Northcote and the dangerous Petricola. While most of Italy's batsmen made starts, none were able to push on and play a decisive innings and the wickets were shared around before No. 11 Alauddin was run out to end the innings.
"Our batsmen are confident and did a good job spreading the load to make the total but perhaps didn't perform as strongly as we know they can, but with a strong bowling unit we didn't feel panicked about taking on Italy's batting line up and we scored our second victory," said Dikana. "The pitch was pretty bouncy this morning but it flattened out as when we bowled on it which saw the ball keep low which helped me in claiming at least two of my wickets which were leg before. Tomorrow's a rest day which means we can relax as a side and prepare for Tuesday and hopefully make it three out of three."
In the tightest match of the day hosts Hong Kong lost out for the second time in a row, this time to a rejuvenated Oman side. In the bright sunshine of Kowloon Cricket Club, Najeeb Amar's side put on a respectable total of 266 after some strong batting from Hussain Butt who struck 81 of the side's runs. The stand-out bowler for the Omanis was veteran spinner Khalid Rasheed who managed to claim the scalps of Courtney Kruger and Butt on his way to 3 for 37.
Oman's batsmen didn't waste any time when it came to scoring runs after lunch with opener Hemin Desai smashing his way to 62 in just 30 balls. The 33-year-old right-handed batsman smashed nine boundaries and three sixes before he was bowled by Nadeem Ahmed. Vaibhav Wategaonkar added an important 68 but the star of the Oman innings was easily the side's wicketkeeper-batsman Sultan Ahmed, whose unbeaten 70 guided the team to victory with one over to spare.
"It's obviously disappointing not to win for a second time but the side hasn't lost its confidence. We know we've got the ability and today's game, like yesterday's, came down to the last over," said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke. "Our biggest problem is we've not had a big enough batting partnership in our innings and then we've gone on to bowl five or six poor overs which has allowed the opposition to get on top of us. We won't let today's result hold us back and along with the other results from today's games the tournament is still wide open."
"We have a great depth in our middle-order and today it paid off with everyone contributing throughout the 50 overs to get us over the line," said Ahmed, who was named Man of the Match. "We knew today's match was important for both ourselves and Hong Kong and we wanted to give it our all, we made sure we were motivated for today's match and it really paid off. We always focus on the coming match and not the next four matches and I think that has helped our focus today and hopefully it will help us after the rest day when we face Italy on Tuesday."