USA marches on as Nepalese challenge falters
The United States established themselves as strong favourites to take the World Cricket League Division 4 title with a nine-wicket win over the Cayman Islands on Tuesday, with their main rivals Nepal suffering a surprise defeat at the hands of Tanzania.
The Americans have lost just one wicket in their two victories so far, and Sushil Nadkarni, Orlando Baker and captain Steve Massiah are the only US batsmen who have as yet spent any time at the crease.
As it turned out, the Caymans' skipper Saheed Mohamed played into their hands by electing to bat first, as the American bowlers made life difficult for the opposing batsmen early on, restricting the scoring and picking up three wickets by the time 47 runs were on the board.
Ricardo Roach, Mohamed himself and Ryan Bovell all got a start, but with 44-year-old leg-spinner Nasir Javed claiming three for 29 in the middle phase of the innings it took an aggressive 39-ball 46 from Ronald Ebanks to enable the Caymans to reach 181 for nine by the close. Orlando Baker eventually came back to remove Ebanks, finishing with three for 30.
Baker and Nadkarni then shared an opening stand of 71 when the Americans replied before the former fell for 32, and Nadkarni and Massiah made sure that this was the Caymans bowlers' only success, adding 111 in less than 21 overs as they raced to victory.
Nadkarni ended with 84 not out, made from 92 deliveries with 11 fours and two sixes, while Massiah's 59 came from 62 balls with four fours and four sixes.
The most exciting match of the day was at Medicina, where a dramatic batting collapse by Nepal saw them fall just nine runs short as they chased a modest Tanzanian total of 117.
Their innings started badly, with openers Mahaboob Alam and Anil Mandal both dismissed without scoring, and they never really recovered. Gyanandra Malla anchored the innings with a steady 41, and things looked promising for the Nepalis as he and captain Paras Khadka put on 37 for the third wicket, of which Khadka contributed 24.
But Khalil Rehmtullah removed Khadka, taking three for 25 as Hamisi Abdallah took the hazardous course of bowling out his two new-ball bowlers. It was a gamble, but with spinners Kassim Nassoro and Riziki Kiseto tying the Nepalese batsmen down it eventually paid off.
Only Mahesh Chhetri among the lower order was able to reach double figures, and when was eighth out 26 runs were still needed. Amrit Bhattarai lasted just one ball, and although over the next eight overs Basant Regmi and Rahul Vishwakarma were able to add 16 of them, Kiseto bowled the latter with the total on 108.
Kiseto finished with three for 19, while Nassoro took two for 18 in a fine ten-over spell.
The Man of the Match award, however, went to Tanzanian opening batsman Seif Khalifa, whose 82-ball 46 had held his side's innings together when the Nepalese bowlers had threatened to run through them for a dramatically low score.
He saw them through to 86 before he fell, and despite a remarkable spell from Vishwakarma, who took five for 18 in 7.3 overs, Tanzania managed to struggle to 117. It did not seem like much of a total at the time, but it proved to be just enough.
In Pianoro, meanwhile, hosts Italy secured their first win of the tournament with a solid performance against Argentina.
Having elected to bat first the Italians began shakily, and they were on 47 for three when Damian Crowley joined opener Andy Northcote at the crease. These two put on 88 in sixteen overs before Crowley, who had faced 70 deliveries and hit seven fours and two sixes, fell for 63.
His partner went on to make an 87-ball 73 with eight boundaries, and with captain Alessandro Bonora chipping in with an undefeated 37 and Hemantha Jayasena contributing a rapid-fire 27 Italy reached a challenging 262 before they were all out in their final over.
Pablo Ryan, who had taken a wicket in his first over, came back to finish off the innings and ended with four for 49, while Diego Lord had three for 55.
262 always seemed likely to be too many for Argentina, but they were given a steady start by Grant Dugmore, who made 59 before he was fifth out with the score on 121. Even at this stage, however, they were well behind the asking rate, and with Jayasena taking four for 50 and Gayashan Munasinghe and Dilan Fernando claiming two apiece the innings ended on 202.