Nepal promoted to division 2

Bermuda, May 4 – Uganda and Nepal have secured promotion to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 after their final group matches of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 3 in Bermuda today.

On a day when three teams had a chance to claim the vital second position on the table, Nepal defeated Italy by eight wickets and Bermuda defeated USA by five wickets, resulting in Nepal overtaking USA on the points table based on net run rate.

In the day’s third match, Uganda, which was already guaranteed a position in both the tournament final and the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 after defeating USA on Thursday, lost to Oman by seven wickets.

In the most anticipated match of the day, it was a case of saving the best for last as host Bermuda defeated USA by five wickets at the National Sports Stadium.

USA needed to win the match to guarantee a top two finish, while Bermuda needed to win the encounter to avoid the possibility of being relegated if Oman won its match against Uganda.

Having recently beaten Bermuda in an undefeated run at the ICC Americas Division 1 Championship, USA won the toss and elected to bat, and a half century from Akeem Dodson set the pace for the innings.  Dodson crafted an 82-run third wicket partnership with Orlando Baker (29), while Barrington Bartley (21) added some quick runs. Veteran Neil McGarrell added 54 runs from 43 balls, including four fours and one six, and was still at the crease at the end of the 50 overs.  USA posted 220 for nine from its fifty overs, setting a run rate of almost 4.50 to the host for victory.

In reply, Bermuda went for the boundaries to secure a win as quickly as possible. Left-hander Chris Douglas survived three dropped catches to blast 89 from 75 balls, including three sixes and nine fours, to set the foundation.  Captain Steven Outerbridge added 37, while another veteran, Janeiro Tucker, added 37 from 24 balls.  Tucker, who was voted the Most Valuable Player at the ICC Americas Division 1 Championship, hit four fours and one six, and Bermuda reached its target of 221 in the 45th over, for the loss of five wickets.  The USA bowlers shared the wickets, while Bermuda’s Douglas was deemed to be man of the match.

Steven Outerbridge was thrilled with his side’s victory, which not only ended the recent losing streak, but ensured that Bermuda will not get relegated to WCL Division 4.  

“The boys played well, hats off to Chris Douglas as well as the bowlers, who did a really good job up front.  The mentality has changed – we were a little but more circumspect today compared to the first day.  What we thought was we’d come out here and be positive, and at the end of the day, if we can pick up the win to at least stay in Division 3.”

The captain, who limped for much of the game as a result of a recurring hamstring injury, said: “It’s a recurring injury.  Now that I am a full time worker I don’t play cricket as much as I used to, and the body is getting older, so these things do happen, so just got to go back and work hard in the gym and overcome these minor injuries.”

His USA counterpart, Steve Massiah, was philosophical about his side’s loss.  “I thought after being down two for under 10, I thought we recovered brilliantly to post 220, which, at that stage, the pitch had been looking really difficult, but the pitch was not like what it looked like.  We thought it looked placid.  We won the toss and decided to bat, but then it dried out brilliantly, and in the end it was a perfect cricket wicket.

“Full credit to Bermuda, I thought they applied themselves and came at us hard in the first five overs, and I thought that basically took it away from us.  But in the middle period, we managed to bring it back to even stevens, but I guess we weren’t good enough.”

“We have lost our chance, I think Nepal is ahead of us on the run rate.  But whoever is in the final, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish them all the very best.”

Massiah said that the team will need to return to basics to improve for the next events.  “I guess USA has not been good enough in the last two games.  If you are not good enough, then you are not deserving winners, so I guess we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and go back to basics, and hopefully the next tournament, we can put in a better performance.”

Elsewhere, Nepal defeated Italy by eight wickets at St. David’s CC to secure a spot in tomorrow’s final, as well as a position in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014.

Sitting third on the ladder after four rounds, Nepal needed a convincing victory to try and knock USA out of second position.  Chasing 128 for victory after restricting the European side to 127 from its 50 overs, openers Subash Khakurel and Pradeep Airee wasted no time, putting on an 87-run partnership from 12 overs.  Captain Paras Khadka smashed 22 from only 8 balls, while Gyanendra Malla struck two shots – one six and one four – to still be at the crease alongside Airee (42 not out) when the side reached 129, and victory, in the 15th over.  Luis Di Giglio and Fida Hussain took one wicket apiece.

Earlier, Italy started slowly, with openers Hayden Patrizi (4) and Andrew Northcote (10) patiently facing down the fierce Nepal bowling attack to set the foundation.  Stalwarts Peter Petricola (31) and Carl Sandri (39) increased the run rate, but a decisive three-wicket haul by Rahul Vishwakarma tore through the vital middle order, and Italy was struggling at 108 for six in the 37th over.  While no other batsmen made significant contributions, Italy batted out its innings for the first time in the tournament, scoring 127 for nine.  Sanjam Regmi captured three for 32, but it was Vishwakarma’s three for 28 that was adjudged the man of the match performance.

Nepal skipper Khadka was pleased that his side’s hard work has paid off with a top two finish.  “We had to make sure that we put down a good run rate.  Pressure is always there, after having lost both the first two games so we had to step it up.  Hats off to the boys for having played so well and for their determination.  We had to wait for the results of the other matches, and then it happened for us.  They say that when you work hard, things and luck work for you.  That’s what we believe in and it worked for us.”

Having chased down the total in the 15th over, Khadka admits that the wait to hear the results of the day’s remaining matches was not easy.  “It was a nervous wait for the other results.  After we finished we had to wait about two hours, but thank god we hung in there and it worked for us.”

Nepal now faces Uganda in the final, after losing to the number one side on the second day by six wickets.  The skipper believes that his side has improved since Monday, and will be focused on winning tomorrow. “We’ll think positive and forget what happened.  It was good that we were playing as a team today.   The momentum is back and we just need to continue the momentum.  Like I’ve said before, if we play to our potential, the results will be pretty good.”

Italy skipper Alessandro Bonora feels that his side’s batting let the team down.  “Today’s result was really disappointing.  Our batters just didn’t fire at all.  Our bowling has done really well, I think, but we haven’t given the bowlers a chance with the scores we’ve been making.  So it’s our batting that’s been letting us down, with not enough runs being scored. Today we made 127 from 50 overs, and it’s just not good enough at this level, unfortunately.”

The side knew that Nepal would be playing hard in order to improve its net run rate.  “We knew that they would come at us hard, and we did our best to try and stem that, but it just didn’t happen for us today.  They played some good shots and had a couple of players who had a good day.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s fifth-sixth play off against Oman, Bonora was feeling positive about his side’s chances.  “We’re really fighting hard to get one win out the tournament.  We’re already going down to Division 4, but a win will keep us one ranking above the team we beat.  We really want to finish on a high note if possible, and ‘well be doing our best to come out with something from the tournament.”

In the third match of the day, Oman shocked the previously undefeated Uganda by seven wickets at Somerset CC in its second win of the tournament.

While Uganda had already qualified for the final after defeating the USA by 82 runs on Thursday, Oman was playing for victory to try and avoid finishing outside of the top four, and being relegated to Division 4.

After electing to bat, Uganda lost three cheap early wickets to be struggling at 32 for 3 in the ninth over.  Opener Arthur Kyobe top scored with 42, before Syed Amir Ali trapped Laurence Sematimba and Deusdedit Muhumuza lbw to make it 73 for six in the space of four overs.

Captain Davis Arinaitwe again steadied the ship with a well-played 23, and a resurgence by the lower order saw Richard Okia (18) and Frank Nsubuga (31) add vital runs to help Uganda reach a total of 163 for nine from its fifty overs.  Oman’s Ansari, Amir Ali and Aamir Kaleem took two wickets each.

In reply, Oman overcame the loss of two early wickets to chase down the total in 39 overs.  An unbeaten 69 from Zeehsan Siddiqui and 47 from captain Vaibhav Wategaonkar ensured that the fifth-ranked team secured the only victory over Uganda in the tournament.  Siddiqui was named man of the match.

Despite the victory, the wins for Bermuda and Nepal resulted in Oman remaining in fifth position.

Oman captain Wategaonkar was pleased with his side’s improved performance: “The bowlers again did a great job, and luckily the batsman had clicked for this match, so the score was chased easily.  So I am happy with the performance.”

However, the left hander remains disappointed that his side has taken so long to perform well.  “Today, somehow the top order clicked better, and the mindset was better.  It’s not much, but its ok – but we should have chased previous totals also.”

Looking forward to tomorrow’s fifth-sixth place play off against Italy, Wategaonkar is confident that his side will continue its improvement.  “We have told our batsmen to play their natural games, in the previous matches they were a little bit conscious about their batting.  So now I think hopefully the will give their best in the next match, and we will definitely try to win the next match.”

Uganda skipper Davis Arinaitwe remains positive despite his side’s loss.  “We thought we would give a couple of the guys a go, get a change to get a lift in the tournament, try out a few different combinations, and play without any pressure.  It was a chance to try and prepare for tomorrow and show what else we can do, and get the best combinations for tomorrow.”

Looking forward to the final against Nepal, the captain says that there  will be no change to the team’s normal preparation. “Nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary.  We are going to go out there, and look to play our brand of cricket, try to be as competitive as we’ve always been, and at the same time look to entertain the crowd as well. For us, it’s another great opportunity to play in an ICC World Cricket League final, and we hope that we can play good cricket, and look to hold the trophy at the end of the day.”