USA turns it round to join Italy in WCL Division 3
The United States staged an extraordinary recovery in Pianoro on Friday, from 17 for five to a massive 306 for seven, enabling them to beat Argentina and earn promotion to Division 3 of the World Cricketn League.
Up with them go Italy, who secured a 167-run victory over Tanzania. The USA and Italy will now contest Saturday's final, while Tanzania must be content with a third-place play-off against Nepal.
The turnaround in the American match must have been galling for Nepal, who kept their slim chance of promotion alive with a seven-wicket demolition of the Cayman Islands. Seeing the USA collapse as they themselves were running through the Caymans must have raised their hopes, but their own efforts were cancelled out by that American recovery.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, Steve Massiah's men were soon reduced to 3 for four, Gary Savage removing both openers before either had scored. He quickly added the scalp of wicketkeeper Steven Taylor, while at the other end Augustin Casime chimed in with two wickets as well.
It was an astonishing collapse from a side whose top order had so far performed better than most in the tournament, but Lennox Cush and Aditya Thyagarajan began the recovery process with a sixth-wicket stand of 84, in which Cush's contribution was a 54-ball 58, with nine fours and two sixes.
His controlled aggression transformed the innings, and after he was dismissed by Diego Lord, Thyagarajan continued in partnership with Rashard Marshall. These two proceeded to add an unbroken 205 for the seventh wicket, Marshall completing the first century of the week and shortly afterwards being joined by his partner.
Marshall's 122 came from 84 deliveries with 11 fours and six sixes, while Thyagarajan's comparatively sedate 102 took 146 balls and included 14 fours.
Argentina had no answer to this onslaught, and were soon on 7 for three in their turn. That became 30 for six, and despite a defiant 32 from Tomas Francis and 27 from Lucas Paterlini they were all out for 110.
The wickets were shared among the US attack, Kevin Darlington, Usman Shuja and Adrian Gordon collecting three apiece, for 21, 33 and 25 runs respectively.
Hosts Italy have improved through the tournament after a shaky start, and they confirmed their promotion with a comprehensive win over Tanzania.
Peter Petricola's 89 (from 100 balls, with seven fours and a six) was the rock on which their total of 259 was seven was built, and he shared valuable partnerships with Damian Crowley (38) and then with Hayden Patrizi, who had dropped down from an opening slot and justified this decision with an undefeated 49.
And then Petricola completed a fine double by taking four for 24 as Tanzania were bowled out for 92, although most of the early damage was done by Dilan Fernando, who claimed four wickets as well at a cost of 28.
Kassim Nassoro provided most of the resistance with a fighting 34, but he received little support and the innings lasted only 27 overs.
Knowing that net run rate was against them even should the United States lose, Nepal went flat out for victory over the Cayman Islands at Medicina.
After the Caymans chose to bat first Amrit Bhattarai grabbed three early wickets for 8 runs off seven overs, Mahaboob Alam claimed two in the middle order, and then Basant Regmi finished the innings off with four for 13 as the islanders could only manage to reach 69. Ryan Bovell was again their best batsman with 31 not out, but other than him only one other player could get to double figures.
It was a devastating performance, and the Nepalis were untroubled in knocking off the runs in just 17.2 overs, although they lost three wickets in the process. But speed was of the essence, and they completed their part of the requirement with ease.
But by then that American recovery had made sure that it was all in vain, and Nepal had to settle for having retained their place in Division 4. For Argentina and the Caymans, however, who were relegated from Division 3 eighteen months ago, there is the prospect of a further drop to Division 5.