Germany, Nigeria and Kuwait all recorded victories on the opening day of Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 7 (WCL Div. 7) in Gaborone, Botswana.
It was a late start for the two games being played at the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) grounds on the opening day, after heavy rainfall the night before prevented the matches at the venue starting on time.
Botswana's match against Kuwait was reduced to 45 overs while Nigeria's game against Norway was reduced to 43 overs.
The newest ground in Botswana, Lobatse, played host to Japan and Germany today with the former's tournament getting off to a rocky start after the side lost its first five wickets for just 12 runs against WCL Div. 8 qualifiers Germany.
It was the day of Rana-Javed Iqbal, the 36-year-old medium-fast bowler simply ripped his way through the Japanese side claiming 6-25 in a series of overs that included four maidens.
Iqbal began proceedings by clean bowling Tatsuro Chino while first-change bowler Ehsan Latif got rid of opener Gavin Beath it was then up to Iqbal to remove key batsman and captain Masaomi Kobayashi as the qualifiers got into the swing of things.
In the sunshine of Labotse, Germany's bowlers worked their way with ease through the Japanese batting line-up and had it not been for Patrick Giles-Jones' 51 not out the score could have been far lower for the side from the East Asia-Pacific region.
Giles-Jones' hard-fought 56 not out of 116 balls saved face for the Japanese side but unfortunately for him the middle and lower order were unable to support the 28-year-old and the side were bowled out for 146.
Germany made light work of knocking off the runs dropping just one wicket in the process to make the target. Openers Andre Leslie and Milan Fernando knocked 77 runs off the target before Fernando was dismissed after being caught by Ko Irie.
It was then up to Leslie and captain Asif Khan to finish proceedings off for the European side and scoring the qualifiers its first win of the tournament in front of a small crowd of locals who turned up to watch the visitors.
Iqbal earned himself man of the match for the game, something captain Khan was proud of: 'Rana-Javed bowled really well today just hitting the line and length perfectly from the moment he took the ball. With the pitch being newly laid it just seemed to pitch the ball with the best bounce to work in his favour which was fantastic.'
'We had Japan on the back foot from the start when we had them pinned at 5-12 and despite the side's bounce back to increase the total to 146 we knew with some strong batting we could win the match. Andre and Milan performed well with the bat today, keeping their heads down and contributing fully with the bat.
'Tomorrow we're playing Nigeria which will be a tough game, especially as they won today but I think we've got what it take to beat them at Lobatse,' concluded Asif.
Hosts Botswana began the tournament with a disappointing batting performance with the top order unable to contain fast bowlers Saad Khalid or Mohammad Murad of Kuwait.
None of the top five in the Botswana line-up managed more than 12 runs and despite some enthusiastic support from the local Gaborone community the team struggled to put runs on the board.
It was up to veteran all-rounder James Moses and wicketkeeper-batsman Denzil Sequeira to steady the ship but miscommunication between the duo meant that Moses was run-out for 34.
Sequeira's 31 runs were much needed but when the 21-year-old departed for 31 after being caught and bowled by Azmatullah Nazeer and the lower order failed to contribute to the total and had it not been for Kuwait's 19 extras the team would have been 100 all out.
With Botswana all out before the scheduled lunch break the side took to the field to bowl a few overs before the scheduled innings break.
The team got off to a flying start, much to the delight of the local supporters, with Omar Ali dismissing opening batsman Irfan Batti for a duck after the 32-year-old smashed the ball into the hands of Moses after facing just four balls leaving the winners of Division 8 0-1.
Omar had a strong game with the ball and alongside first change bowler Mosa Gaolekwe the duo had the Kuwait team on the back foot going into the innings break at 4-42.
At the resumption of innings, despite some nifty bowling by Aslam Chand to clean up the lower order, Kuwait captain Hisham Mirza showed the Africans that the Kuwait team was not to be taken lightly leading the side to victory with 51 not out, striking eight boundaries and two sixes in the afternoon sun.
Man of the match and captain Mirza said: 'I definitely feel that Botswana challenged us today - it was new conditions for us to play and a new surface to bat on too, so we were slightly shaky to begin with but Botswana are a good side and they showed that with their bowling early on in our innings.
'The amount of extras we gave away today is a bit of a concern, I think we misjudged the bounce of the wicket but we'll look at that and hopefully come back stronger ahead of tomorrow's game.'
In the final and longest game of the day, Nigeria managed to limit Norway to 166 runs in its reduced overs game at BCA Oval 1. A poor start by captain Damien Shortis who departed for just seven runs, while his fellow two top order batsmen, Shahid Mahmood and Ehetsham-ul-Haq both out for ducks.
The middle-order steadied the ship for the European team despite some strong bowling by medium-pacer Kunle Adegbola and captain Endurance Ofem who claimed 3-12 with his off-spin bowling.
In reply Nigeria's opening batsman Ademola Onikoyi got proceedings off on the right foot scoring 40 off 32 balls. Norway's Umran Shahzad and Barbar Shahzad tried their hardest to keep the runs scoring at a minimum with the pair seeing off Ramit Gill as well as key middle-order batsmen Akabogu Okwudili and Ofem.
Norway's fielders failed to keep the runs off the board with the African side striking 18 boundaries to reach the target, with Sean Philips hitting seven of those, and alongside Adegbola the pair finished that match to give the side a five-wicket win as the sun began to set over the ground.
Captain Ofem admitted he'd expected more of Norway as a side: 'I expected more from Norway today especially as they played in Division 6 but they were not nearly as tough as I had expected. I probably would have liked it if we lost fewer wickets than we did - we probably should have ended the game only two batsmen down.
'Tomorrow is crucial for us and we feel if we win tomorrow then we know we're in for a big tournament here. I was pleased to take a few wickets today, my pace bowlers suggested I had a bowl at the Powerplay and then later in the game both of my pacers had bowled their overs so I decided to step in and the wickets came not long after that.'
Tomorrow's fixtures will see Botswana play Japan at BCA 1, Kuwait will face Norway at BCA 2 while Germany will take on Nigeria at Lobatse.