Uganda and USA recorded third round wins to continue their undefeated run and cement their positions at the top of the leaderboard of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League [WCL] Division 3 in Bermuda.
The victories set up a clash between the two teams today [May 2] at St. David’s, where the victor will be guaranteed a position in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014, the penultimate event on the road to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.
Uganda overcame a slow start to defeat Italy by 23 runs at the National Sports Stadium and continue its winning streak at the tournament.
Light rain delayed the start of play, and Italy’s decision to field appeared to be a good one, as its bowlers heavily restricted the Uganda innings. Left-hander Arthur Kyobe chipped away to score 14, including two of the three fours scored by his team. Vince Pennazza broke through the dogged defence in the 22nd over, capturing the wickets of Roger Mukasa (10) lbw and Benjamin Musoke (11) to reduce the competition leader to 55 for four. Double figures from Deusdedit Muhumuza (12) and Richard Okia (15) assisted Uganda to reach a modest total of 114 for nine from its 50 overs. Carl Sandri was the pick of the Italy bowlers, with four for 26, while Vince Pennazza picked up two.
Italy’s response started almost as slowly, though for much of the run-chase it looked like the European side would overhaul the target required. Andrew Northcote scored 28 from 72 deliveries before being run out. His measured knock was the highest of the Italy innings, as the batting lineup failed to find its feet.
While Peter Petricola (19) and Michael Raso (12) kept the run rate above the required level, the last five wickets fell for 22 runs. Four wickets from Uganda captain and man of the match Davis Arinaitwe, and two apiece from Charles Waiswa and youngster Mukasa, meant that Italy was all out for 91.
Winning skipper Arinaitwe was delighted with his team’s efforts in such a tightly contested encounter. “It certainly was a tight match, the wicket was difficult to bat on, but we thought that if we finish our 50 overs, and regardless of what score we got on the board, we’d look to make it as difficult as possible for them. It worked for us, we managed to take all the wickets before they managed to hit the score.
“We looked to see if we could bat our 50 overs out, and looked to occupy the crease, pick up a reasonable total. We certainly looked for slightly more than that, but at the end of 50 overs we could only manage 114. And we have a decent enough bowling attack to defend such a score.”
Today’s key match against the USA is something that his side is prepared for, Arinaitwe says. “For us, we’re here to try and make sure we qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014. We’ve taken every game we’ve played with the utmost respect and importance, so tomorrow is not going to be any different.
“Tomorrow we’re playing another game, we’re playing against a very big team in the tournament, the USA. For us it is business as usual. We’re going to wake up in the morning and go out there and stick to our game plans and try to pick up the win.
“The beauty about it is that tomorrow’s win actually gives the automatic qualification spot, so for us, we’ll go out there, do what we normally do, and we believe the rest of it will take care of itself.”
Italy captain Alessandro Bonora said after the match: “It was not good enough. The close score is not much of a consolation prize.”
Reflecting on his team’s performance, Bonora feels they let too many chances slip away. “Uganda was definitely under pressure. I think they just couldn’t get away.
“Our seamers built up that pressure so well and then to have Sandri and Crowley come in, it was pretty awesome. We felt pretty buoyed at lunch. But it was definitely a tricky pitch, it had a lot of turn in it. So credit to Uganda, they obviously knew that and came on and coped with the pressure.”
“With two matches to go, the skipper believes that his side needs to make changes in order to finally live up to its potential: “Tomorrow we have to make changes, we have to make fundamental changes. But in terms of how we play, we are just playing too many risky shots, not sticking around long enough and not fighting long enough.
“We’re looking for shortcuts all the time. It was the third game and we haven’t batted 50 overs, which is the cardinal sin in one-day cricket, and we’ve committed it three times. We’re a better team than that but we’re certainly not showing it.”
Elsewhere, USA defeated Oman by 2 wickets at Somerset CC to record its third successive win of the tournament and cement its position in the top two.
Set a total of 176 to win, USA started badly, losing three early wickets for 37 runs. The Oman bowlers kept the batsmen under pressure, and Munis Ansari claimed three top order batsmen for 62 runs. A 90 runs partnership between veterans Steven Massiah (39) and Rashard Marshall (72 not out) brought USA within reach of victory, but a lower order batting collapse swung the match back in favour of Oman. The side lost three wickets for three runs, but an aggressive appearance from Barrington Bartley (16) helped USA reach the target of 176 with two wickets in hand. Ansari and Aamir Kaleem took three wickets apiece.
Earlier, Oman was sent in to bat, and other than a patient knock of 25 from captain Vaibhav Wategaonkar, the top order failed to fire. A three wicket spell from Neil McGarrell ripped through the middle order, but resistance from the tail end, including 26 from left-hander Sufyan Mehmood and an undefeated 26 from number 10 Munis Ansari, saw Oman recover from 92 for seven to 175 all out. USA’s Marshall was adjudged man of the match.
Relieved USA skipper Steve Massiah said after the match: “It was a well-earned victory by us. We were made to work very hard for it because obviously we had Oman at 92 for seven and then the team managed to recover and post a decent total of 175. We then lost three early wickets, and myself and Rashard Marshall had to consolidate the innings. In the end, the partnership proved to be crucial in helping us to get across the line.”
The loss of cheap wickets was nerve-wracking for those watching in the pavilion, according to the skipper: “In a tournament of this significance and with so much at stake – two teams are going to qualify to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 and each and every one of us came here with the same goal – it was very nerve wracking and a pressure situation but it just goes to show the depth of our team and we were able to get the job the done.”
Looking forward to today’s crunch match against Uganda, Massiah says the possibility of guaranteed progression to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier will not impact on his side’s preparation. “We won’t prepare any different to how we have prepared for past three games. We’re taking each game as it comes. Each and every game is like a last game, like a final for us.
“We’ll go out there with the same intensity and approach as for the last three games, and just try to be positive and hopefully we can come away with a win.”
Oman captain Vaibhav Wategaonkar felt his team let opportunities slip through its fingers: “The total was defendable. The problem is again that we didn’t bat well. Our bowling department is working very well actually, but our batting was not as good. We did well because the tail enders played well.”
The Mumbai-born skipper said the team had been looking for early wickets. “We were trying to get the wickets all the time, and then the big partnership between the captain and Marshall came along.”
For tomorrow’s match, Wategaonkar says the focus for improvement will be simple. “We’ll be focusing on our batting.”
Nepal has recorded its first victory of the tournament, defeating host Bermuda by eight wickets in their third round match in front of a passionate crowd at St David’s.
Under a grey sky, Nepal won the toss and elected to field. \ Nepal’s decision proved to be a good one, as the combination of Chandra Sawad and Prithu Baskota restricted the run rate. Bermuda lost six wickets for 45 runs to be left struggling at 89 for eight in the 31st over. A patient knock from captain Stephen Outerbridge (29) resisted the spin attack, and once the captain was bowled by his opposite number, Paras Khadka, Malachi Jones (15 not out) did his best to salvage the innings, however the host was all out for 106 in the 39th over. Man of the match Khadka was the pick of the Nepal bowlers, taking four for 31, while Basant Regmi claimed three for 20 with an economy rate of 2.00.
Nepal chased down the target quickly, with captain Khadka (46 not out) and Gyanendra Mall (34 not out) finding the boundary regularly to ensure that Nepal reached its target of 107 in the 12th over for the loss of two wickets. All-rounder and former captain of the Bermuda Under 19 team, Rodney Trott, took both wickets.
The thrilled Nepal captain said after the match: “We were due for it. It was sad that we couldn’t live up to our potential in the first two games, but anyway, we picked up in this game. We still have a long way to go, a couple more games, so we just need to go there and win convincingly.
“The pitch really helped us. The pitch is really turning. The boys have worked hard for it and we bowled very, very well. We bowled to the conditions and the fielders backed it up, and the batters finished it.”
With two matches left in the group stage, Khadka believes his team will keep improving. “It’s still not the end of the tournament for us, we’ve still got two games to look forward to. We’ll take it one game at a time. We’ll go out there and go for the win. There’s no alternative for us. The only way we can move forward it by winning all the games, so we’ve got to take all the positives from this game and move ahead.”
Bermuda skipper Stephen Outerbridge was disappointed with his side’s batting: “I think again our batting let us down. It’s hard to win a match when you only get 100 runs on the board, and then you start as poor as we did. It just can’t happen.
“We didn’t clear the ground at all. We looked at the wicket, it is turning square. They made the inroads early and we found it hard to get out of the rut that we’ve been in. Credit to Nepal, they played well and deserved to win.”
Looking forward to today’s clash with Italy, the skipper was philosophical: “What I told the boys the other day is to look inward and come back better than you were the day before. If everyone can do that, and have a stronger performance, than hopefully we can make it two wins and two losses for the tournament tomorrow. Hopefully there’ll be a few surprises in the other games and then we’re back into the tournament and still trying to push for a promotion place.”
USA’s result against Italy moves the side to top of the table, pushing Uganda down to second. Nepal jumps two places to fourth, while Bermuda drops one spot to fifth.