With their professional careers on the line defending a middling total of 159, United Arab Emirates produced a stirring fightback with the ball in the second half of Oman’s innings, eventually defeating their desert rivals by 46 runs at Affies Park.
Having chosen to bat first, UAE were banking on the selection of the extra spin-option in Imran Haider to come through after Ghulam Shabber‘s 63 provided the bulk of their first-innings runs. But it appeared to be well under par at the 25-over mark of the chase with Oman having reached 78 for 3. Haider’s radar was off early as well, getting smashed for two boundaries in an expensive 26th over, but a needless run out in the 27th sparked a stunning collapse.
Oman opener Jatinder Singh‘s technical brilliance was once again on display on a difficult batting wicket as the batsman anchored the innings with 51. But Oman’s dreams of advancing to Zimbabwe began to unravel with an innocuous push into the covers. Ajay Lalcheta bolted for a run from the non-striker’s end while Jatinder – batting on 45 – rightly refused. Rohan Mustafa collected quickly but needed to gamble with no back-up fielder in place. Ultimately, the UAE captain’s aim was true.
Jatinder brought up his fifty off Haider in the 28th, but appeared rattled by the run out and when Mohammad Naveed came into the attack for the 29th, he struck with his third ball, getting Jatinder to slash behind for 51. With the set batsman out and the wicket increasingly difficult for new batsmen arriving, the running between the wickets for Oman grew increasingly nervous as several opportunities for singles were hesitantly turned down.
Ahmed Raza, whose brilliant nine-over spell contributed to building pressure, struck for the second time when he beat Sultan Ahmed’s forward prod through the gate to make it 112 for 6 in 35. Oman still only needed only 48 off 15 overs, but the match only lasted another 11 deliveries. Smelling blood in the water, Haider and Naveed attacked to wipe out the tail – Oman’s last four batsmen scored zero – as their chances of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup came to a halt.
Nepal moved a step closer to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe with a nailbiting three-wicket win off the final ball over Kenya at Wanderers Sports Park. At 82 for 5 chasing a target of 179 and Nepal’s batting holy trinity of Paras Khadka, Gyanendra Malla and Sharad Vesawkar all back in the pavilion, few would have bet on a historically shaky middle and lower order to salvage a victory. But an 87-run sixth wicket stand propelled them to their third win, now needing just one more over Canada on the final day of group play to advance to next month’s qualifier.
Nepal appeared set to pay the price for a subpar fielding performance which included dropping Irfan Karim on the first ball of the match as Kenya’s wicketkeeper went on to top-score with 42 off 100 balls. Alex Obanda took the lead in Kenya’s opening stand while Karim got settled, smashing 41 off 46 balls to take their side to 65 for 1.
But legspin phenom Sandeep Lamichhane put another stamp on a dominant tournament with the ball – he’s currently the leading wicket-taker with 14 – dismissing Obanda in his first over, the first domino to fall in a five-wicket haul. Lamichhane’s five maidens during his spell nearly ground the Kenya innings to a halt but after surviving his spell, Kenya’s tail added 38 off the final five overs.
Emmanuel Ringera gashed the top order for wickets in each of his first three overs after taking the new ball for Kenya, but Khadka once again rescued Nepal from embarrassment, holding down the fort with 42 off 44 balls. However, when he and Vesawkar fell, the inexperienced duo of Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Kumar stepped up with an improbable partnership, taking the target down to 10 off the final 10 balls when Sheikh fell slogging a skier in the circle off Shem Ngoche’s spin.
Paudel was then runout on a poor call for a run from Sompal Kami, leaving Nepal with two to get off the final two balls. Kami swung and missed at the first, but drove the final ball from Nehemiah Odhiambo to deep midwicket. A single was assured and the pair took on Ngoche for a dicey second, but as Ngoche charged ahead in desperation to deny the winning run he fumbled the ball to seal Kenya’s fate, out of the promotion hunt after their third straight loss.
Batsman Gerhard Erasmus followed his final-over heroics from 24 hours earlier to produce a second consecutive half-century, teaming with allrounder Craig Williams for a 95-run sixth-wicket stand as Namibia handed Canada their first loss of the tournament by 17 runs at United Cricket Field.
At a ground that has been a bowler’s paradise early in the opening hour of play until this stage of the tournament, Canada won the toss and unsurprisingly sent the hosts in. But Canada struggled to make an early breakthrough as Stephan Baard and Lohan Louwrens survived the Powerplay with a 47-run opening stand. Navneet Dhaliwal’s part-time medium pace ripped apart Kenya on Sunday and he was called upon again to make a breakthrough, striking twice in the 12th over to get Canada back on even terms.
But Williams entered and produced Namibia’s highest score of the tournament, making 82 off 89 balls before departing in the 48th over. Erasmus had been with him for much of the way and once again took Namibia into the last over to forge a commanding total of 268.
Ruvindu Gunasekera continued his stellar tournament – he leads all batsmen with 207 runs – with another half-century. Dhanuka Pathirana and Dhaliwal continued to steer the chase after Gunasekera’s departure and with 10 overs to go, Canada were positioned as favorites on United’s short boundaries with needed 87 to win and seven wickets in hand.
But left-arm medium pacers JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck bowled sensational spells to repel Canada’s middle order. The pair bowled eight of the final ten overs, taking four wickets. They were at the best over the final 12 balls. With 28 needed to win, Smit conceded six singles in the 49th. Frylinck began the final over conceding just two singles over the first three balls, effectively clinching victory.