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Cricket news - Namibia take early lead in final WCL Division 2
Hosts Namibia went top of the table after the first round of games in World Cricket League Division 2 in Windhoek, closing out a hard-fought low-scoring scrap against Papua New Guinea at Wanderers with three wickets in hand. Also picking up wins were Hong Kong and Oman, the former comfortably chasing down Canada's total of 222 off the back of an assured, unbeaten century from skipper Anshuman Rath at Affies Park, whilst Oman turned over pre-tournament favourites USA on a tough wicket at United, the Americans scratching together 148 and the Omanis overhauling the target with 13 balls to spare.
Starved of match practice and facing a stronger field than at the last edition, the home side was widely regarded as underdogs ahead of the tournament. Their performance with the ball today in skittling the more-fancied Papuans for 118 after winning the toss, though their showing with the bat was rather less convincing, will come as a big boost.
Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus had waved away talk of "slow, low conditions" at the pre-tournament press conference with a knowing grin saying, "we'll see on the scorecards at the end of the day." It could be that he had an inkling that Wanderers would prove livelier than expected when he put PNG in to bat. The Namibian pace attack took full advantage of what proved in the morning to be quick and bouncy wicket, Jan Frylinck the first to strike as Tony Ura fended a rising delivery back to the bowler, and Asad Vala soon followed, caught behind for 1. The Papuan innings never really recovered, the home quicks running rampant as Frylinck, Craig Williams and JJ Smit all bagged three scalps, with left-arm spinner Berhard Scholtz's miserly ten overs also yielding a wicket at the cost of just 17 runs.
Chad Soper's rearguard 36 off 79 to get them to triple figure was the only significant contribution with the bat, but when their turn came with the ball the Barramundis came alive. While JP Kotze was at the crease with Stephan Baard it briefly looked like the hosts would win it at a canter, but when Damien Ravu held an excellent catch low to his left off left-armer Pokana to see Kotze back in the shed for 19 off 16, PNG sensed a way back in. No Namibian batsman would score with any freedom until Jan Frylinck came in at number 9 with his side on the ropes at 88-7. In the interim, the cricket had been nervy and occasionally shambolic from both sides. Charles Amini was the stand-out with the ball, claiming three wickets with his leg-spin, and PNG's ground fielding was dynamic if not up to their usual disciplined standards. A needless run-out and a stumping spoke to the edginess of the Namibian line-up, though at least one more went begging due to wild overthrows.
Even 7-down the hosts were only ever one partnership away from the win, which JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck would eventually provide. A towering six off Amini that almost cleared the clubhouse was the signal that Frylinck had his eye in, and the chase didn't take long after that. Crossing the line with almost 20 overs to spare has handed Namibia a significant advantage early in the running, and dealt PNG a significant handicap - as net run rate takes no account of wickets remaining.
Brief Scores: Papua New Guinea 118 all out (Chad Soper 36; Jan Frylinck 3-16, Craig Williams 3-25) lost to Namibia 120/7 in 30.3 overs (Jan Frylinck 23*; Charles Amini 3-46) by 3 wickets
Over the road at Affies Park, Canada racked up the only 200+ first innings score of the day. Despite losing Ravindu Gunasekera early as Kinchit Shah held a simple return catch, 2nd wicket pair Wijeyeratne and Dhaliwal dug in to forge an 82-run partnership to set a platform. Hong Kong stuck at their task with discipline though, never letting the scoring get out of hand, and Ehsan Khan would find the breakthrough in his first over, clean bowling Wijeyeratne for 44. Dhaliwal would go for the same score chipping back to Tanweer Afzal and wickets began to come. Davey Jacobs added some late fireworks in the penultimate over taking Tanweer Ahmed for 17. Shah would ensure Hong Kong went into the break with the momentum, however, taking a hat-trick with the final three balls to hold Canada to 222.
They would not relinquish the initiative after the break, as Rath and his returning predecessor Jamie Atkinson racked up a fluent 90-run opening partnership. Though Nikhil Dutta would find his way through Atkinson's defences to remove the former skipper for 35, and remove Shah holding a low return catch for 27, it was never enough to get Canada back in the game. Dutta would complete his spell to finish with 2-30, but never threatened to remove Rath. Nor did any of the other bowlers, and with the aid of debutant Ahsan Abassi he kept Hong Kong firmly in control of the chase. Abassi would eventually be stumped off Saad bin Zafar immediately after Rath completed his hundred, allowing Babar Hayat to join Rath for the final stretch, and eventually finish off the match with a monstrous six over the media tent and clean out of the ground.
Brief Scores: Canada 222 all out (Davy Jacobs 52*; Kinchit Shah 4-32) lost to Hong Kong 222/3 in 47.2 overs (Anshuman Rath 105; Nikhil Dutta 2-30) by 7 wickets
Across town at Trustco-United, the campaign of champions-presumptive the USA got off to an inauspicious start as they faltered again in the face of long-time foils Oman. Despite having come off the worse in their five previous encounters, the Americans' recent form would nonetheless have leant them a degree of confidence ahead of the game. The Omani pace attack coupled with a somewhat untrustworthy wicket quickly stripped them of it. The in-form Xavier Marshall was perhaps unlucky to be run out by a ball deflected back down onto the stumps, before Steven Taylor and Aaron Jones nicked off to Bilal Khan and Fayyaz Butt in succession. Jaskaran Malhotra was then felled by a vicious bouncer from Mohhamad Nadeem which crashed into the helmet off the bat, retiring hurt and taking a precautionary trip to the hospital.
By the time he returned, thankfully cleared to resume his innings, his side were in a state. Four further wickets had fallen, the last that of Roy Silva whose battling 33 had saved some US blushes, and Malhotra resumed with his side at 124-7. His second stint didn't last long and the States would eventually head in for lunch after just 37.5 overs having been bowled out for just 148, Butt the pick of the bowlers with 3-23.
The going was not much easier when Oman came out to bat, Ali Khan bagging three wickets in his opening spell as Oman stumbled to 20-3 in the first ten. But Mohhamad Nadeem joined skipper Zeeshan Maqsood in the middle and together the pair steadied the ship, adding 38 for the fourth wicket to dispel the panic. Khan would return to claim Maqsood's wicket caught behind for 28, but he would be the only US bowler to find any reward on the day, as Maqsood and debutant Suraj Kumar closed out the match with 13 balls to spare.
Brief Scores: USA 148 all out (Roy Silva 33; Fayyaz Butt 3-23) lost to Oman 152/4 in 47.5 overs (Mohammad Nadeem 55, Suraj Kumar 50; Ali Khan 4-27) by six wickets.
There will be little time for the US or the other defeated sides to regroup, as all are back in action tomorrow when the Americans head to Wanderers to take on the hosts, whilst Canada face Oman at Affies and PNG meet Hong Kong at United in the second of the six rounds.
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