Papua New Guinea and Canada top after day four
After four days of play in the T20 World Cup Qualifier, it will come as a surprise to many that Papua New Guinea and Canada are on top of their groups. But that is the case with PNG holding on on net run rate after a narrow defeat against Scotland and Canada recording a comfortable win over Nigeria.
Papua New Guinea and Scotland played out one of a number of non-televised thrillers so far in this tournament. Scotland were batting first but lost their big hitters George Munsey for 14 and Calum MacLeod with the score on 32. Munsey's opening partner Kyle Coetzer laid down a foundation with 54, before Matt Cross clubbed 40 from just 23 balls to help them score 146-6 from their 20 overs.
Lega Siaka scored runs for PNG early in their reply, reaching 31 before he was bowled by Mark Watt. Norman Vanua and Jason Kila scored 17 runs from the penultimate over to get their team within touching distance, needing just nine from the final over. But both were out caught from the first two balls of that over, and the final pair were unable to score the required runs, PNG losing by just four runs.
In Canada's match against Nigeria at the main Abu Dhabi ground, they were looking like not making a competitive total at one point, losing their sixth wicket in the 17th over with the score on 112. But Nitish Kumar - who'd been playing something of an anchor role since he came in at number 3 - and Hamza Tariq smashed 48 from the final 22 balls, the latter scoring 33 from 16 before he was caught from the final delivery. Kumar finished unbeaten on 57 in Canada's total of 159-7.
After losing both openers in just the second over, a partnership of 57 between Sulaimon Runsewe and Chimezie Onwuzulike briefly made it look like they were going to get back into the game. That partnership was interrupted by a brief moment of hilarity when Runsewe sprinted off the field - seemingly due to the sort of runs one doesn't want to get during a match - returning five minutes later only to sprint back on without his bat. After recovering his bat, he finally made it back out to rapturous applause from his teammates.
The partnership was the sole bight spot for Nigeria though, and they were restricted to 109-8 from their 20 overs, losing by 50 runs.
Earlier on the same ground, two sides coming into the tournament in the midst of great upheaval met as Hong Kong took on the UAE. More upheaval came before the match as the Emirates Cricket Board announced that they'd suspended Ashfaq Ahmed as part of the ongoing match-fixing investigations.
But that upheaval didn't affect the UAE's on-field performance. They restricted Hong Kong to 116-7 from their 20 overs, and then knocked off the runs in 15.1 overs to win by 8 wickets, Rameez Shahzad top scoring with 54 and Chirag Suri also contributing with an unbeaten 44.
Over in Dubai, an unbeaten 85 from Dhiren Gondaria helped Kenya post 138-4 from their 20 overs against Bermuda. After the Bermudans lost their first three wickets for just seven runs before a 58 run partnership between Delray Rawlins and Janeiro Tucker looked to get them back into the game.
But after Rawlins was caught behind for 37, Bermuda collapsed from 65-3 to 78-9 and were eventually bowled out for 93, losing by 45 runs.
Tomorrow is a quieter day with just three matches. In Group A, Scotland will play Namibia and Singapore will take on the Netherlands at the ICC Academy, whilst in Group B in Abu Dhabi, Jersey will play hosts UAE.