Simone Gambino (CricketEurope)
WINS FOR HONG KONG AND ITALY AS ICC CHALLENGE LEAGUE B DRAWS TO AN END IN OMAN
The last round of matches of the 1st leg of the ICC Challenge League Group B at the Oman Cricket Academy produced results according to form.
Italy climbed into 3rd place by comfortably beating winless Bermuda whilst Hong Kong clinched the runners up berth by beating Kenya not without a late alarm.
Bermuda, having yesterday played in T20 style against Jersey, went one step forward today versus the Azzurri experimenting T10 mode.
Kamau Leverock was out off the 16th ball of the innings having faced all but one delivery. His score of 40, out of 46, was to remain the best for the Atlantic islanders.
From that moment Bermuda slumped consistently: 84/3 off 9 overs became 107/5 off 17 before dropping to 149/8 off 33 and finally all out for 180 in the 41st, Madupa Fernando the pick of the Italian bowling with 3/21.
Italy replied in a much more solid manner. Nikolai Smith and Joy Perera used the powerplay wisely scoring 56 runs before the Northern Knights player was out for 18.
Once the skipper went for 42, Giampiero Meade and Gareth Berg took the game out Bermuda's reach before the Northamptonshire players was out for 30.
Man of the match Meade, went for 49 to add to his excellent bowling stint of 2/10 off 15 balls. Just like against Kenya, it was up to Rakibul Hasan, 22 off 21 balls, to hit the winning runs.
Similar to Italy with Bermuda, also Hong Kong, on winning the toss, decide to put Kenya in.
The East Africans struggled to come to terms with tight bowling and at 66/5 after 17 overs the outlook was grim. It was at this stage that Collins Obuya, 63 off 90 balls, was joined by Sachin Bhudia, 52 off 79.
Their 108 run partnership for the 6th wicket put Kenya temporarily back on track before a final collapse saw four wickets falling for as many runs: 213 all out in exactly 47 overs the final score.
After the early loss of Adit Gorawara, HK cruised to 173/3 in the 32nd over thanks to solid contrinutions by Nizakhat Khan, 35 off 40, Kinchit Shah, 52 off 71, and skipper Aizaz Khan, 53 off 62.
With only 41 required off 18 overs, the Asian side eased a bit too soon, losing four wickets for 24 runs and suddenly finding itself 196/7. A bit too late for Kenya to pose a serious threat with Hong Kong getting home by three wickets with 49 balls to spare.
The second leg of the B Group of the ICC Challenge League will take place in Uganda from July 27 to August 9, 2020.
With the forthcoming hosts having achieved a runaway lead over their opponents, the East Africans will be focused on securing qualification on homesoil to the 2022 ICC Cricket WorldCup Play-Off without waiting for the third leg that will take place in the summer of 2021, most probably in Jersey.
Whilst Hong Kong can still harbour hopes to challenge Uganda for the top spot, Jersey, Kenya and Italy will continue their battle to avoid 5th place and relegation into the play outs with the top ranked countries outside the CWC structure. Bermuda, sadly, look all but doomed for the wooden spoon, especially if they refuse to comply to ODI playing style.