Kuwait cruised to its third victory of Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 7 (WCL Div. 7) when it defeated Nigeria by nine wickets at Lobatse today.
Hosts Botswana defeated Germany by two wickets in a thrilling match at BCA Oval 1 while despite a valiant effort by Japan's batsmen the side from the East Asia-Pacific region lost out to Norway at BCA Oval 2 by 53 runs.
At Lobatse, Nigeria got off to a bad start when, after Ademola Onikoyi had taken the first run his opening partner, Ramit Gill was dismissed for a duck leaving the Africans reeling 1-1. Things didn't get much better for the side with Segun Olayinka and captain Endurance Ofem were dismissed totaling just 10 runs between them.
Responsibility then fell once again to player-coach Sean Philips who proved the cornerstone again of the innings hitting a 125-ball 75 to stabilise the innings and save the side some embarrassment after the match proved to belong to Kuwait's Saad Khalid.
The 20-year-old fast bowler claimed 5-24 including the key wickets of Philips and Olayinka to make sure that his side had a small total to chase down in the second innings.
It was then up to Irfan Bhatti and Abid Mushtaq to knock off the runs but not before Abid departed for 16 leaving Bhatti and Saad Qamar to finish off the innings for the team.
Bhatti smashed his way to 83 not out off 76 balls in an innings that included eight boundaries and four sixes by the 32-year-old right-handed batsman and guided the team to victory alongside Qamar who walked away with a half-century.
Man of the match Saad Khalid said, 'It is obviously great to make it three wins out of three for the tournament but we can't rest on today's win - we face Germany tomorrow and we know they'll want a good match especially since they lost to us in the final of Division 8.
'I was pleased with the way I bowled today and it was good to dismiss Sean Philips as we know he was the key man in the Nigeria side along with their top order.'
At BCA Oval 1, hosts Botswana played a reduced overs game after dew effected the original start time. With the game reduced to 47 overs, Botswana won the toss and elected to bowl which proved extremely worthwhile as the Africans took two quick wickets to begin the match.
Omar Ali once again proved to be one of the bowlers to watch in this tournament claiming three wickets including that of key opener Milan Fernando. The Germans then managed to bed in for a while in the blazing sunshine with captain Asif Khan and Farooq Ahmed adding key runs to the total along with Rishi Pillai.
It was then up to James Moses to dismiss both Asif and Pillai with the latter having his middle stump broken by the 44-year-old all rounder who also managed a superb diving catch of Srinivas Satyanarayana off the bowling of Omar.
Having posted a good target of 230 for the local team to win, the German side took to the field with the belief that they could bowl out Botswana on a surface that the Europeans have had plenty of experience upon.
After a slow start with wickets falling early for Botswana, Karabo Modise proved the man for making runs in the game playing a patient innings to score 65 off 70 balls much to the delight of the watching Botswana locals.
Alongside Denzil Sequeira the duo kept Botswana's chances alive but upon Modise's departure after being run-out by Rajeev Vohra it was then up to Omar to step into the breach with the 26-year-old hitting 45 off 40 balls in an innings that saw him smash 20 runs off just one over and thus increase Botswana's run-rate so substantially that by the time he departed the hosts needed less than a run-a-ball.
Upon Omar's departure it was then Tshepo Mhozya and Aslam Chand to guide the team to victory much to the delight of the local spectators and the team.
Upon winning his first man of the match award of the tournament, Omar commented: 'I think today was about us playing positive cricket and when I saw Karabo going out there and playing with a positive good attitude, I decide that when I went out there I would go with the same attitude and it paid off.
'I know I hit it about quite a bit but my plan was just to hit as many singles and push them back and then I realised when I hit my first boundary and they started to panic a bit it was time to take the Powerplay and I fired a few shots which got them under pressure which is what we wanted.
'I hit a few boundaries and two sixes but we ran a lot and credit also to Tshepo who had a lot of composure while he was out there - it was very much a team effort today.'
In the final of the three games of the day, Japan took on Norway in a game that was made for Norwegian all-rounder Shahbaz Butt. The right-handed batsman arrived at the crease after the Japanese bowlers began the day on the right foot claiming early wickets with Patrick Giles-Jones and Takuro Hagihara taking down each of the openers.
Shahbaz took to the field with knowledge he would have to be the mainstay in the Norway innings which he did smashing his way to 98 with 12 boundaries. Iftikhar Suhael aided Shahbaz with a deft 53 runs to help the European side build a sizeable total of 244 in the sunshine.
Giles-Jones proved to be the pick of the Japanese bowlers claiming four scalps including that of Shahbaz.
In reply, Japan was valiant in its run chase - Ko Irie, Munir Ahmed and Gavin Beath all contributing but Shahbaz had other plans in mind dismissing the entire middle order and taking a hat-trick for the first time in his career.
'It feels great to win today's game and I just knew I had to stay in there and make the runs for as long as possible and stay in the game for as long as possible which I did. I played safe and it worked to my advantage.
'I was also really happy with the way I bowled but that's not to say Japan didn't challenge us today they put up a good fight with both bat and ball but ultimately we came out on top,' said a thrilled man of the match Shahbaz.
Tomorrow will see Germany take on Kuwait at BCA 1, Japan will play Nigeria at BCA 2 and hosts Botswana head to Lobatse to play Norway.