UNITED States To Maintain The Hosts To Keep ODI Hope Is In The Life, Day 2 > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - USA hold off hosts to keep ODI hopes alive on Day 2

Oman currently lead the table with two wins in as many games.

The United States held their nerve to close out a nerve-wracking two-run win over hosts Namibia, and put their campaign for ODI status back on track on Day 2 of World Cricket League Division 2 at Windhoek. Neighbouring Canada face an uphill battle to make the top four, however, as they recorded their second straight loss. Front-runners Oman thrashed the Canadians by 100 runs at Affies park to go clear at the top of the table, whilst Papua New Guinea bounced back to record their first win, chasing down Hong Kong's 222 with 16 balls to spare.

The game of the day was always likely to be the hosts against the struggling favourites, and so it proved as Namibia and the USA put on a thriller for the crowd at Windhoek. A first innings ton from Aaron Jones had put the Americans in a strong position, but a captain's knock from home skipper Gerhard Erasmus put the hosts back in charge, only for them to collapse inches short in the face of Ali Khan and Saurahb Netravalkar's exemplary death bowling.

Erasmus had invited the Americans to bat first under cloudy skies after winning his second toss on the trot. JJ Smit made it look a solid decision when he picked up the early wickets of Xavier Marshall and Monank Patel, but that only brought Jones to the crease and from then on the momentum swung behind the visitors. Jones would build partnerships with Steven Taylor and Hayden Walsh on his way to a maiden unbeaten international century, Jones first stopped the rot and then accelerated dramatically on passing fifty. Taylor would fall to an excellent running catch from Stephan Baard, but in Hayden Walsh he found an equally effective partner as the pair regularly found the rope despite alert fielding from the home side. All the Namibian pacers came in for some tap, but left arm spinner Bernard Scholtz proved tougher to get away, bowling his ten overs for just 26 and unfortunate to go wicket-less. Not so Smit, who would return to claim three more wickets at the death as the USA finished on a challenging but not un-chaseable 250.

Five overs and two Ali Khan wickets into the Namibian innings with the hosts at 7 for 2, and 250 already looked like it might as well be 500. Openers Kotze and Baard were back in the shed, the latter largely by his own doing, offering Monank Patel a do-over after being dropped at deep third man. But Erasmus and Jean Bredenkamp would dig in, and the next wicket wouldn't fall for another 30 overs. By then the pair had added another 149 runs to the total. Erasmus' innings of 92 had been perfectly paced, accelerating as the Americans tired in the heat and putting bad balls over the rope. But he was the man to go, caught trying to force Netravalkar over the rope again. Bredenkamp went similarly when he belatedly looked to up his scoring rate, caught in the deep off the US skipper.

Another stabilising partnership between Christi Viljoen and Craig Williams put the hosts back in a winning position, and when Williams was caught off Hayden Walsh for 24, Smit looked set to put the game to bed with two boundaries off his first three balls pulling the asking rate back under 7. But the Americans stuck at their task, and when Smit holed out off Netravalkar in the 48th the nerves began to creep in. Namibia needed just 14 off the last two overs with four wickets still in hand, but Ali Khan had the ball for the 49th. He trapped Viljoen in front first ball, cleaned up Jan Frylinck with the fifth and had Scholtz for a duck with his last. With still just six to defend off the final over the game was in the balance, but last man Zhivago Groenewald lost his nerve on the fourth, charging off for an impossible single after pushing tamely back to the bowler, Netravalkar, who made no mistake.

Over the road at Affies, things were anything but tense, Canada having trundled to a 99-run defeat to Oman about 15 minutes earlier. The Omanis had posted 285 after being invited to bat first, underpinned by skipper Zeeshan Maqsood and Aqib Ilyas's 124-run partnership for the third wicket. Canada had started well as Romesh Ergana bowled Khawar Ali in the 4th over with just two runs on the board. Ilyas and Jatinder Singh added 60 before Saad bin Zafar trapped Singh LBW for 62, but as Maqsood and Ilyas found their fluency Canada rather let the game drift. Ilyas would fall to Dhaliwal for 86, but Maqsood would press on with the middle order, falling only three balls from the close for a 102-ball 109, his side finishing on 285 - the biggest total of the tournament so far.

Canada did not come close in the end. Though former captain Nitish Kumar steadied the ship after Ravindu Gunasekera again fell early, his 57 from 65 the highlight of the Canadian innings, but when he departed, caught off Sandeep Goud in the 22nd over just after bringing up the 100 for his side the belief seemed to leave the Canadians. Just four more boundaries would be struck as the required run rate climbed inexorably, and after skipper Davey Jacobs was removed by Mohammad Nadeem his side seemed content just to bat out their overs. They didn't manage that either, bowled out for 186 in the end with 40 balls remaining. The loss leaves them languishing on the bottom of the table still looking for their first win and in something of a net run rate hole.

Over at United, Papua New Guinea rallied from their opening defeat to pick up their first points against Hong Kong, chasing down the 223-run target with 14 balls to spare. The story of both sides innings followed a similar template - a strong start squandered by the middle order - with Anshuman Rath and Tony Ura both dominating the bowling early in the innings. The difference in the end was Jason Kila arresting PNG's slide from number 8, hitting a cool-headed 36 from 44 to see them home.

On a track that nobody had looked comfortable on the day before, Rath again looked a class apart as he carried on where he'd left off on Saturday. Weathering the early loss of Jamie Atkinson the Hong Kong skipper built partnerships with Kinchit Shah and Ahsan Abbasi to take his side past 150, and in retrospect his dismissal, caught down the leg side of left-armer Pokana, looks the turning point of the match. PNG, who had looked lacklustre in the field with Rath at the crease, again rediscovered their verve. Abbasi nicked off to Damien Ravu three overs later for 37, and thereafter Tanwir Afzal's 24 was the only significant contribution as Hong Kong scrambled their way to 220-9 at the close of the innings.

Based on the previous day's evidence that might have looked a winning score, but Ura made scoring look comparatively easy as he dominated a 71-run opening stand with Sese Bau, and following Bau's dismissal caught behind off Aizaz Khan pressing on with Assad Vala and Charles Amini to take PNG as far as 139-2 before cutting Ehsan Khan into the hands of a diving Rath at backward point. With 82 still needed PNG might easily have folded from there, and when Amini, Lega Siaka, and Kiplin Doriga all fell within the space of nine balls Hong Kong looked to have regained the initiative. Kila and Chad Soper's seventh-wicket stand would prove the difference between the sides though, even if Soper fell with two still needed, Kila's knock was enough to see them safe home.

The win lifts PNG off the bottom of the table, though it did little to erase the disadvantage on net run rate carried over from the first match. Come Tuesday they face the United States at Affies Park, where both sides will be looking for a second win to take them into the upper half of the table and away from danger. Meanwhile Canada will be looking to fight their way back toward the top four when they take on the hosts at United, whilst Oman, with a win at Wanderers over Hong Kong, could become the first side at the tournament to secure ODI status.

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