Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna
USA coach Pubudu Dassanayake gave credit to Denmark's death bowling unit, saying their ability to bowl yorkers at the death saved them 30 runs in the final four overs that was a turning point in USA's four-wicket loss on Wednesday at WCL Division Four. Dassanayake believes it is something USA must learn from when preparing to take on good teams in tournament play.
"The major difference is that our bowlers didn't bowl well and especially the main bowlers, our spinners," Dassanayake said. "It was a decent batting track but defending 260 I would never doubt it but we bowled pretty badly. Having said that, Denmark bowled really well at the end. Almost every ball was a yorker and they defended about 30 runs in that period because of the way that they bowled. A lot of credit to them but it's and eye-opener for our bowling department and at the death overs how we're going to handle it if that situation comes again."
One area to come under scrutiny is not just USA's poor bowling performance but the bowling strategy itself. USA captain Steven Taylor pulled specialist left-arm spinner Danial Ahmed from the attack after just one over for nine runs and didn't use him for the rest of the game, the second time Taylor has done so in the tournament and instead opted to use himself and Alex Amsterdam to fill out those overs with part-time offspin. Taylor finished with 3 for 46 in ten overs while Amsterdam took 0 for 32 in seven.
Ahmed bowled a superb spell of 0 for 29 in ten overs a day earlier against Oman and though he is wicketless so far in the tournament, he has had numerous chances put down off his bowling. Ahmed's overall economy rate for the tournament is 4.27 and Dassayanake says he has confidence in Ahmed heading into the Jersey match.
"I haven't thought about any changes yet for Friday," Dassanayake said. "We know Danial's capability. Against Oman the way he bowled ten overs really contributed a lot to win that game. We have to keep building confidence in him. We'll meet and see our best combination for Friday and come back with it. The things I have with the reserves, Jessy and Prashanth as bowlers, there are lots of options for me to select. I'm not blaming Danial, especially I don't think anyone can blame him today because he only bowled one over. It's just about giving that confidence to him and come back hard on Friday."
However, Dassanayake didn't rule out other potential changes. Ali Khan has been bowling the last two games with a hamstring strain while Ravi Timbawala has been troubled since the first match of the tournament with a right thumb injury. Jessy Singh bowled well in the first two games of the tournament for USA before making way for Khan while hard-hitting Abdullah Syed is waiting to make his debut as a batting reserve.
"We have to look into our injuries," Dassanayake said. "Ravi is struggling with his thumb. Ali from the beginning had the hamstring injury but slowly he is getting better. There are a few other niggles. Still again we will assess all the injuries and see who is the best XI available for Friday."
Dassanayake remains bullish on USA's chances of promotion despite the loss to Denmark. USA sits at 3-1 in a three-way tie for first place with Oman and Denmark, though USA has by far the best net run rate, which is the tournament tiebreaker. USA comes up against Jersey on Friday at Wong Cricket Field, a team currently 1-3 in the tournament whose only victory so far has come against winless Italy. A win for USA will clinch promotion to Division Three and set up a potential rematch in the final against Denmark, who take on Oman in a virtual semi-final at Severn Cricket Field.
"When you lose it's tough to take but still I am comfortable to say that USA is the best team in this league," Dassanayake said. "It's just one bad session we had in the evening. With my experience in World Cricket League, it always happens in these tournaments at this level. It's all about how we come back hard on the next day. Everybody has to stay cool and come back and do their best on Friday and I'm pretty confident what we're going to do. No one is panicking in our group. We have lots of confidence to get through this tournament. It was just a bad half day."