Ireland, Canada, Netherlands and Kenya have qualified for the 2011 World Cup, but the headlines will once again be stolen by Afghanistan who have secured ODI status with victory over Namibia
Kenya ensured they would be at their fifth successive World Cup with an impressive six-wicket win over Ireland in Pretoria. Wednesday's humiliation at the hands of Namibia had left their place in doubt, but against an Ireland side already assured of their own qualification, they eased home with 12 balls to spare. It wasn't easy, though, and chasing a target of 209, they slid to 96 for 4 with the loss of the talismanic Steve Tikolo. Their batting has often been brittle, but Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo combined to add 113 for the fifth wicket to guide them home. Man of the Match Obuya hit an unbeaten 66 off 73 balls while Oboyo struck 50 off 68.
Niall O'Brien was the top-scorer with 59 during Ireland's innings. John Mooney (34), Andrew White (25), Kevin O'Brien (22) and William Porterfield (21) got starts without really pressing on. Tikolo was the most successful wicket-taker with 3 for 11.
"I am very happy we qualified - that was our main goal coming here so that is good enough for me," a relieved Tikolo said afterwards. "I think we outplayed Ireland today. The guys came to the ground today very determined and we wanted it badly so that was encouraging, especially considering our poor performance against Namibia two days ago."
A splendid 167-run opening stand between Alexei Kervezee and Mudassar Bukhari made short work of Canada's 205 in Johannesburg and confirmed Netherlands also grabbed one of the three remaining slots at the 2011 World Cup, along with Canada who had already all but qualified. Kervezee (77) and Bukhari (84) led a confident reply to a target of 206 and though Netherlands wobbled after their stand was snapped in the 37th over, the cool hand of Bas Zuiderent was there when the winning runs were hit. The win was set up in the field thanks to a controlled bowling and fielding display. Bukhari and Edgar Schiferli struck with the new ball and the pressure was maintained by Darron Reekers and Peter Borren. Only Sandeep Jyoti (46) and Umar Bhatti (39*) waged some resistance down the order but a target of 206 proved too easy for Netherlands.
"I'm feeling very happy and excited that we are through to another World Cup," said Netherland's skipper Jeroen Smits. "We played in 2003, 2007 and now we have made it to another one. I think we deserve to be there. We had a few hiccups along the way but basically our batting lineup has been solid through the tournament and we have a good mix of youth and experience. It all came together nicely today and we showed just how well we can play."
"It's been a good effort by everyone in the squad," Canada's captain Ashish Bagai said. "We've played pretty consistently and I am really looking forward to the final now. We are delighted to have qualified for the World Cup but we want to win this trophy. It's been a long tour for us and everyone is tired but we will keep it going for one more game and we will get a good rest after that. Then, once we have recovered, we will set out our plan for the World Cup 2011 so that we prepare as well as possible and come into that tournament playing as good cricket as we possibly can."
For a report on Afghanistan's tense win over Namibia click here.
For a report on Scotland's victory over UAE which meant they retained ODI status click here.