American defeat throws WCL4 wide open
Italy threw the World Cricket League Division 4 championship wide open on Wednesday, beating the United States by 51 runs at Medicina.
Elsewhere, Nepal came back well from Tuesday's defeat by Tanzania, securing a comprehensive 8-wicket victory over Argentina, while the Tanzanians maintained their challenge for promotion to Division 3 with a 43-run win over the Cayman Islands.
Italy's total of 212 for nine proved too great a hurdle for the American batsmen, who had barely been tested in their two opening games. It was almost entirely the result of a third-wicket stand of 121 between Andy Northcote (72) and Peter Petricola (85); apart from them, Damian Crowley was the only Italian batsman to reach double figures.
Seamer Kevin Darlington and spinner Lennox Cush did most of the damage for the USA, with three for 36 and three for 49 respectively.
What would happen if their top order was put under pressure was quickly answered when the Americans replied: with Gayashan Munasinghe and Dilan Fernando grabbing two wickets each, the USA was soon on 26 for four.
Aditya Thyagaran led the recovery, supported first by Carl Wright and then by Rashard Marshall, but despite his fighting half-century wickets continued to fall and by the time he was finally caught behind off Munasinghe for 51 the cause was effectively lost. Kevin Darlington fell soon afterwards to a second run-out by Man of the Match Petricola, and the USA were all out for 161, Munasinghe finishing with three for 29.
The strength of Nepal's attack was again in evidence for much of the Argentinian innings at Navile, and another modest target seemed likely almost until the closing stages. But a fine knock of 83 from 73 balls by keeper Alejandro Ferguson, batting at No. 7, transformed the situation radically; Ferguson hit seven fours and four sixes in a display of aggression which enabled his side to reach a somewhat unexpected 193 for eight.
The Nepalese had stumbled the previous day chasing a much smaller target, but there was to be no repetition this time: Mahesh Chhetri and Anit Mandal put on a rapid 98 for the first wicket, with Mandal facing only 58 deliveries for his 60 and smashing seven fours and three sixes.
They were both dismissed by Pablo Ryan within four runs of each other, but then Pradeep Airee and Paras Khadka took over, batting cautiously at first and then racing towards their target, knocking off the runs with more than 17 overs to spare. Airee ended on 38, while his captain needed only 40 balls for his 53, hitting nine fours and a six.
Tanzania proved too strong for the Cayman Islands at Pianoro, despite the absence of captain Hamisi Abdallah.
Seif Khalifa (38) and Abhik Patwa (39) gave them a solid platform, and with stand-in skipper Kassim Nassoro (30), Khalil Rehmtullah (29) and Benson Mwita (32 not out) all contributing the Tanzanians reached 197 for nine, although they might have had more but for four run-outs.
It turned out to be plenty, however, as Rehmtullah and Mwita quickly reduced the Caymans to 10 for three. Saheed Mohamed (37) and Ryan Bovell (39) put on 80 for the fourth wicket, but once they fell Harsh Ramaiya ran through the lower order taking three for 30, and then Rehmtullah came back to claim his third wicket and end the innings with the total on 154.