ICC Media Release
Uganda was the star performer on the opening day of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3 (WCL Div. 3) after a dramatic 14-run win over Afghanistan.
But Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Hong Kong also showed they too will be in contention at this tournament with impressive victories over Cayman Islands and Argentina respectively.
Uganda coach Ebrahim Mohamed was delighted with his side's performance after it managed to hold off a determined Afghanistan side, which recovered from a terrible start to get within touching distance of victory.
'I am very, very happy that we got a victory on the opening day,' said Ebrahim. 'I'm sure we will only get better and better as the week goes on.'
Uganda, after winning the toss, made a solid start to its innings, with Arthur Kyobe (50) and Roger Mukasa (38) putting on a steady stand of 65 for the first wicket.
Afghanistan showed good discipline in the field to cope with a powerful and attacking batting line-up as Frank Nsubuga showed particularly destructive form with an excellent 62, a knock that included three sixes.
The pick of the Afghanistan bowlers was Samiullah Shenwari (3-32) as the usually reliable Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi were on the receiving end of some brutal hitting, including 17 off one Nabi over.
Afghanistan got off to a terrible start in reply with dubious shot selections and some excellent Ugandan bowling, most notably from man of the match Kenneth Kamyuka (5-36), seeing it reduced to 23-5 and then 53-6.
But a brilliant 121-run partnership from Rais Ahmadzai (78) and Samiullah Shenwari (52), who combined excellent hitting with some good placement, put Afghanistan within touching distance of a famous victory, until the fall of some late wickets left it 14 runs short of the target.
'We started off well and had a difficult middle period where we gave them too many easy singles which started to build the strain on us. But the more dot balls we bowled the more pressure there was on them at the end,' added the Ugandan coach.
'I am very sad for myself as I thought we were going to win this match at one stage,' said Rais Ahmadzai.
'But we have not lost the tournament and I believe that we can still recover.'
Five wickets for PNG's Rarua Dikana helped inspire his team to an excellent six-wicket win over Cayman Islands. Coach Martin Gleeson was pleased by the performance of his side and the manner in which it achieved its victory.
'It was not as easy a win as the scoreboard suggests,' said Gleeson. 'It may have looked easy but we had to work pretty hard in getting our wickets and to get ourselves back in the game.
'We wanted to get off to a good start and for our skipper to lead the way in the bowling was excellent.'
Cayman, which was put into bat after losing the toss, had made a steady start, with Ainsley Hall (30) and Ramon Sealy (17) adding 43 for the first wicket before Willie Gavera made the breakthrough.
Even at 81-2, Cayman Islands was on track for a decent total but the bowling of Dikana (5-14) sparked a dramatic collapse, leaving Pearson Best's side with a disappointing total of 121 all out.
In reply, PNG never looked in trouble with a brilliant 51-ball innings from Vani Vagi Morea (64) the key to an opening stand of 97, as it reached its target with 29.1 overs and six wickets to spare.
'We are here to play the best we can and Vani plays an attractive style of cricket. I also have to point out that the running between the wickets was outstanding and that gave us a brilliant start,' added Gleeson.
An excellent wicket-keeping display from James Atkinson was the foundation of Hong Kong's seven-wicket triumph over Argentina. Atkinson claimed six dismissals as Argentina was all out for 107, with Nadeem Ahmed taking three-wickets in an excellent all-round team bowling display.
Hong Kong then reached its target with relative ease with Zain Abbas (34 not out) playing a vital innings although there were some worrying moments when it was reduced to 30-2.
'It was really important to get off to a good start in this tournament,' said Atkinson, who won the man-of-the-match award.
'It is pleasing to get six dismissals, but it is more important that we got the wickets and recorded a victory.'
In Sunday's fixtures, Afghanistan faces Hong Kong in a repeat of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4 final, Uganda plays Cayman Islands and Argentina is up against PNG.
The top two teams from the WCL Div. 3 will progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier. From that 12-team event, which takes place in South Africa from 1 to 19 April, four sides will make it through to the ICC Cricket World Cup itself which will be held in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2011.