The World Cricket League has a habit of producing thrillers, and today saw another as the USA and hosts Namibia went right down to the wire today at Wanderers in Windhoek.
Put into bat, the visitors lost their first two wickets cheaply before a third wicket partnership of 75 between Steven Taylor and Aaron Jones, which ended when Taylor was out for 44. Jones then put on 127 for the fourth wicket with Hayden Walsh, who scored 57. Jones finished the USA innings unbeaten on 103 - a maiden List A century - in a total of 250-7. JJ Smit was the pick of the Namibian bowlers with 5-63.
In reply, both Namibian openers were dismissed cheaply by Ali Khan, before Jean Bredenkamp and Gerhard Erasmus swung the game the way of the home team with a 149 run third wicket partnership. That pairing ended when Erasmus was out for 92, whilst Bredenkamp reached 55 before he was dismissed.
Namibia kept things close, and needed 14 from the last two overs with four wickets in hand and the experienced Christi Viljoen at the crease unbeaten on 30. But if the hosts thought it was to be plain sailing, they'd reckoned without Ali Khan. From the first ball of the penultimate over he had Viljoen out lbw.
Seven runs came from the next three balls, giving Namibia hope, but Khan did it again, taking wickets with each of the last two balls of the over to finish with 5-46. Namibia now needed seven from the last over with numbers 9 and 11 at the crease. The pair scored four from the first three balls, but in the panic for runs, Zhivago Groenewald was run out from the fourth ball of the over, the USA securing a two run win.
Over at Affies Park Oman, who beat the USA yesterday, took on the other half of sport's oldest international rivalry, and were put into bat by the Canadians. Innings of 86 by Aqib Ilyas and 109 by captain Zeeshan Maqsood provided the backbone to their total of 285-7. Romesh Eranga was the pick of the Canadian bowlers with 3-57.
Nitesh Kumar top scored with 57 in Canada's reply, but that was the only contribution of note for his team. Fayyaz Butt was the leading bowler for the Omanis with 3-29 as Canada were bowled out for 186, Oman winning by 99 runs and ensuring that they go into tomorrow's rest day as the only unbeaten team.
The last time Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea played each other in an official match, it was the 4000th ODI at the World Cup Qualifier 13 months ago. This time it was just a List A match, but rather than playing off for ninth place in a tournament that was already over, both teams are competing to regain their ODI status they lost after that game.
PNG captain Asad Vala won the toss and put his opponents into bat. Yesterday's centurion Anshy Rath again played a key role for Hong Kong, this time scoring 85. The next highest score for Hong Kong though was Ahsan Abbasi's 37 and they were restricted to 222-9 from their 50 overs. Tony Ura's 87 was then the key part of Papua New Guinea's run chase as they completed a three wicket win in 47.4 overs.
After tomorrow's rest day, the tournament will resume on Tuesday with Oman looking to make it three from three when they take on Hong Kong. Canada will look for their first win in their match against the hosts, whilst USA will come up against Papua New Guinea in the day's other match.
Namibia lost to USA by 2 runs
Wanderers Cricket Club, Windhoek, 21 April
USA 250-7 (50 overs, A Jones 103*, H Walsh 57, S Taylor 44, JJ Smit 5-63
Namibia 248 (49.4 overs, G Erasmus 92, J Bredenkamp 55, Ali Khan 5-46, S Netravalkar 3-50)
Oman beat Canada by 99 runs
Affies Park, Windhoek, 21 April
Oman 285-7 (50 overs, Zeeshan Maqsood 109, Aqib Ilyas 86, R Eragna 3-57)
Canada 186 (43.2 overs, N Kumar 57, Fayyaz Butt 3-29)
Papua New Guinea beat Hong Kong by 3 wickets
United Cricket Club Ground, Windhoek, 21 April
Hong Kong 222-9 (50 overs, A Rath 85, Ahsan Abbasi 37)
Papua New Guinea 223-7 (47.4 overs, T Ura 87, J Kila 36*, Ehsan Khan 4-36)