ICC Media Release
Papua New Guinea took a step closer to qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup when it thrashed Hong Kong by nine wickets on a rain affected day at the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3.
But Afghanistan's and Uganda's dream of playing in world's cricket biggest one-day event remains alive after rain saved both sides from precarious positions in Buenos Aires on Friday and forced both games to be abandoned.
While Uganda's match against Argentina was abandoned with the African side 69-4 in the first innings of the game, Afghanistan enjoyed an even luckier escape after Cayman Islands' run chase was thwarted when it needed just 28 more runs for victory following a torrential downpour.
PNG coach Martin Gleeson, whose team now tops the table with eight points, was delighted with the performance of his side and admitted it will be a nervous day tomorrow following the fortunes of the two other matches.
With the top two sides at this event earning a place in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, if Afghanistan and Uganda both win its matches tomorrow it will be net run rate that is used to determine final group placings as the top three teams will all have won four matches at this event.
'Today was a completely different performance to Wednesday. I thought we needed to stand up collectively and show a bit of character and the boys responded really well and showed a bit of character,' said Gleeson.
'There were no individual stars with the bowling – it was just a really good all-round performance.
'Our batting focus was on knocking off the runs as quickly as possible, hitting the ball and not slogging it. I think we showed that we can score six or seven runs an over with the bat.
'We will just have to see how the other matches end up.'
Hong Kong, who started play with an outside chance of finishing in the top two of the competition, never recovered from a disastrous start and was eventually dismissed for 9x all out, with Loa Nou the pick of the bowlers with 3-14.
And openers Vani Morea (41 not out off 30 balls) and Chris Amini (38 off 44 balls) provided an explosive reply to reach its revised victory target, due to the rain, transforming Papua New Guinea's net run rate which had been seriously damaged following Wednesday's crushing defeat to Afghanistan.
Kabir Khan, Afghanistan coach, admitted that his side were extremely lucky to escape from a defeat against Cayman Islands after a dramatic finish to their match.
Afghanistan got off to a terrible start against Cayman Islands losing openers Shafiqullah Shafaq and Karim Khan when the score was on 17. Further wickets followed, with Rais Ahmadzai and Mohammad Nabi falling within the space of four balls to Saheed Mohammed, leaving the Afghans, who started the day's play, struggling on 47-5. Skipper Narooz Mangal (26 not out) then led a mini recovery to 68-5 off 31 overs, before rain halted proceedings, until early evening sunshine finally allowed play to resume with Cayman Islands set a target of 63 off 20 overs under the D/L method. Although Ainsley Hall fell in the opening over, three fours in one Hamid Hassan over by Keneil Irving looked to have set Cayman Islands on the way to a shock victory. But rain, was to be Afghanistan's saviour, as a late downpour left the umpires with no choice but to take the players off the field forcing the abandonment of the game.
'I nearly had another heart attack. I think I need to say thank you to God as he has been very kind to us today. We needed it to rain and it did,' said Kabir.
'We have to play better tomorrow as PNG has already won its game and Uganda has a very good chance of winning their game as well, so we need to win and with a good run rate as well.'
'It is very disappointing but there is nothing we can do about it. I thought we looked very comfortable today, but we will have to see what happens tomorrow,' said Theo Cuffy, coach of Cayman Islands.
'I am confident, but tomorrow is just another day, but we will try our best. I thought our bowlers really stuck to their plans today and it is just unfortunate about the weather.' In the other match of the day, Argentina finally found some form in this tournament when it reduced Uganda to 69-4 before rain also forced the match to be abandoned. Tomorrow's rankings play-off matches are now cancelled and will be replaced by the replayed matches between Argentina and Uganda (at Belgrano) and Afghanistan and Cayman Islands (at Corimayo).