Winning start for Jersey in WCL 5
The latest stop on the World Cricket League global tour began today in Benoni, South Africa as eight teams - four from Europe and one each from the other ICC regions - started played in Division Five.
With the teams divided into two groups of four, there isn't as much room for error as in the usual six team tournaments, so an opening day win goes a long way towards qualifying for the promotion deciding semi-finals on Thursday.
The game of the day was a tight game between European qualifiers Germany and African qualifiers Ghana on the C Oval at Willowmoore Park, with Germany putting Ghana in to bat after Rishi Pillai won the toss. Sajid Liaqat and Asad Mohammad both took three wickets for the Germans, helping bowl out Ghana for 158.
Germany then had seven overs to bat before lunch, and Daniel Weston seemed intent on scoring the entire target himself, scoring all 44 of the runs his team scored before the interval, doing so from 29 balls. His opening partner Janpreet Singh contributed 12 after the break before he was the first man out with the score on 58.
Weston then fell for 47 shortly afterwards, as the game looked to be swinging back Ghana's way. Asad Mohammad and Ahmed Wardak put on 33 for the seventh wicket to nudge things back the way of Germany, but after Asad was dismissed, two more quick wickets left them on 152-9, dangerously close to defeat.
But the last wicket pair prevailed, and the winning runs were scored five balls later to secure the nail-biting one wicket win.
The other game in group B was between EAP qualifiers Vanuatu and Jersey, one of two teams relegated from last year's Division Four tournament. Jersey won the toss at the Willowmoore Park's B Oval and put Vanuatu into bat. Their innings was dominated by Jonathon Dunn, who scored 76 before he was run out.
The only other contribution of note was Patrick Matautaava's 39, with only one other score in double figures. Ben Stevens was the pick of the bowlers with 5-28 and there was a handled the ball dismissal as Vanuatu were bowled out for 170, but the most worrying aspect of the game for Jersey was Anthony Hawkins-Kay pulling out of bowling mid over. He had only passed a fitness test shortly before the tournament, and Jersey will no doubt be hoping the injury won't rule him out for the duration.
An innings of 65 from former captain Peter Gough set Jersey well on their way to victory, which was eventually achieved in 34.2 overs for the loss of four wickets. Corey Bisson also chipped in with an unbeaten 37 from 30 balls.
Jersey's fellow Channel Islanders Guernsey are in Group A and they took on Italy - also relegated from Division Four - on the Willowmoore Park A Oval, with Italy batting first after Gayashan Munasinghe won the toss. The Italians lost Gian Meade early on, whilst fellow opening partner - and former Bangladeshi domestic cricketer - Raqibul Hasan scored 39 before he was stumped.
Italy's eventual total of 277-7 owed much to Damien Crowley's 92, though the lower order also contributed, with all batsmen down to 8 all reaching double figures. David Hooper was the pick of the Guernsey bowlers with 3-50.
Oliver Newey top scored for Guernsey in their reply with 73, but there was no other score over 30 in their innings, and they were restricted to 229-8 from their 50 overs, losing by 48 runs.
The match on the main oval today was between Asian qualifiers Qatar and Americas qualifiers Cayman Islands, with the latter electing to field first after winning the toss. Qatar lost both openers cheaply, before the third wicket pairing of Khurram Shahzad and Dharmang Patel put on 162.
Both were run out just short of their century - for 94 and 93 respectively - and there were two more substantial scores down the order, with Tamoor Sajjad scoring 49 from 36 balls and Kamran Khan clubbing an unbeaten 50- from 27 balls batting at number 8 to help take Qatar to 343-7 from their 50 overs.
The Cayman Islands didn't get close in reply, only managing 250-8 from their 50 overs, losing by 93 runs, though it would likely have been even worse were it not for number eight Conroy Wright scoring an unbeaten 74 from 63 balls.
The tournament will continue tomorrow, though the way the fixtures fall no team can secure a semi-final place. Group A will see Italy play Qatar and Guernsey play the Cayman Islands, whilst in Group B Germany will take on Jersey whilst Ghana play Vanuatu.