Scotland experienced some hiccups in what was meant to be an easy chase, but held their nerve to beat Afghanistan by two wickets in Rotterdam and sealed their place in the World Cricket League Division One final with Ireland.
Through a combined bowling effort, they skittled out Afghanistan for 141. Left-arm spinner Ross Lyons bagged three wickets and was supported by seamer Gordon Goudie and the leg-spin of Moneeb Iqbal, who took two wickets each. Afghanistan had begun poorly, losing two wickets inside the first five overs and despite a middle-order resistance led by captain Nawroz Mangal, who top scored with 38, they collapsed to lose their last six wickets for 43.
Opener Fraser Watts held firm for Scotland in their chase with his patient 46, and at 105 for 3 it seemed they were on track for a comfortable win. But Mangal, seamer Hamid Hassan and offspinner Mohammad Nabi caused a scare, nipping out five wickets in quick time, including the last three for just five runs. However, amid the stutter, Iqbal fought the pressure with a guarded 15, off 36 balls, to keep one end stable and help his team to victory with more than six overs to spare.
Ireland completed their fifth consecutive win in the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 by beating the Netherlands by 39 runs at Amstelveen and entered Saturday's final as the only unbeaten team in the tournament. The victory was made possible by Ireland's middle and lower order, which led the team to 177, and their bowlers, who skittled the Netherlands for 138 in the 39th over.
The stars of Ireland's defense were spinners George Dockrell and Paul Stirling, who picked up four wickets each. Dockrell claimed 4 for 35 while Stirling's four cost only 11 in 6.5 overs. They cut through the Netherlands line-up, preventing partnerships and stifling the run-rate. Peter Borren top scored with 47, and his 73-run partnership with Bas Zuiderant shepherded the innings from 59 for 4 to 132, giving the hosts hope. Borren's dismissal, however, triggered a collapse and the last six wickets fell for six runs.
Ireland had also suffered a collapse in their innings, that of the top order. They slumped to 59 for 5 before John Mooney anchored the innings with a half-century. Useful 20s from Andrew White and Nigel Jones propped up the innings. Mark Jonkman and Bernard Loots took three wickets apiece for the Netherlands.
31-year-old Loots, who replaced Maurits Jonkman in the Netherlands side only on Thursday evening, was thrilled with his debut performance. "I heard on Tuesday that I may be playing and the clearance came through yesterday so it's been exciting and also happened quite quickly," he said. "I bowled decently although it was very disappointing to lose as that would have crowned the day for me. I'm realistic about my role in the side - I know I'm there more as a container than a striker but I only went for two runs an over today and I'll settle for that and the three wickets were a great bonus."
In the clash of winless teams in Schiedam, Canada thumped Kenya by six wickets. Canada's captain Ashish Bagai made his third half-century in five matches to guide the chase after the bowlers had restricted Kenya to 153.
Such a one-sided encounter didn't seem likely when Kenyan captain Maurice Ouma (38) and Collins Obuya (23) had steered them to 105 for 3 by the 32nd over. However, the Kenyan lower-order collapsed spectacularly, the final seven wickets going down for 48 runs, with the last five only collecting 13. New-ball bowler Harvir Baidwan was the most successful of the Canadian bowlers, taking three wickets.
Canada were in a bit of a bother at 71 for 4, but Bagai and Zubin Surkari stitched together an unbroken 83-run stand to reach the target with more than 14 overs to spare. Bagai scored the bulk of the runs, hitting nine fours on his way to a 78-ball 61. The two sides face off again on Saturday to in the fifth place play-off.