Oman are the only side with three victories from three games in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Windhoek after a destructive performance with the ball and a well-timed run chase earned a seven-wicket triumph to keep them top of the table.
With the top four teams at the end of the week in Namibia earning ODI status and more competitive cricket in the newly-formed Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2, only an unlikely set of results over the final two rounds of group matches can deny the Omanis.
USA and Namibia are also in good shape to secure a top-four spot after picking up their second victories on the third day of action – the Americans easing to a ten-wicket win over Papua New Guinea and the hosts beating Canada by 98 runs.
Having won the toss and put their opponents in to bat, Oman set the tone with the ball from the off at Wanderers Cricket Ground.
Bilal Khan (4-30) removed dangerman Anshuman Rath – who had made 114 and 85 in his first two innings this week – for just three, while the rest of the top order also went cheaply to leave Hong Kong languishing at 47 for four.
But number five Babar Hayat made a patient 56 to start the rebuilding process as a fifth-wicket stand of 62 alongside Tanwir Afzal (32) and a handy 26 from wicketkeeper Scott McKechnie moved them to 176 for seven.
However, three wickets in one Khan over – including McKechnie being run out – saw Hong Kong all out for 176 with 12 balls remaining.
Oman then expertly crafted their chase as an opening-wicket partnership of 79 between Jatinder Singh and Khawar Ali provided the perfect platform.
Even when Ali was run out for 28 by Ehsan Nawaz it mattered little, as Aqib Ilyas (27) and then Mohammad Nadeem (31 not out) kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood (14 not out) hit the winning run once Singh holed out for 65 to secure a seven-wicket triumph with 27 balls remaining and keep the Asian outfit in pole position atop the table.
Maqsood said: “We are calm and happy, we need to continue to do the same thing. Looking forward to 2 more games, as we still haven’t completed what we want to. As a captain I still think I can improve, we came to play cricket and give our best, we look forward to next match and securing one of the top four spots.”
PNG v USA
Papua New Guinea won the toss at Affies Park but their decision to bat proved costly as in-form American seamer Ali Khan (3-41) – who now has 12 wickets from three matches this week – tore through their top order.
Khan firstly had dangerman Tony Ura – fresh off his decisive knock of 87 in the victory over Hong Kong – caught by Steven Taylor for seven before trapping fellow opener Sese Bau (2) and number three Assad Vala (8) LBW to reduce PNG to 19 for three.
The middle order of Lega Siaka (32), Chad Soper (18) and Kiplin Doriga (30) tried to get the innings back on track but slow left-armer Karima Gore removed Siaka and Soper before taking two other wickets to end with figures of 4-23.
Papua New Guinea were eventually all out for 127 off just 39.3 overs and USA’s opener Xavier Marshall and Monank Patel wasted no time in knocking off the runs.
The pair hit 11 fours and seven sixes between them as an unbeaten stand of 128 sealed a brilliant victory inside 20 overs, with former West Indian international Marshall bashing 54 from 57 balls and Patel ending on 70 from just 60 deliveries.
Having lost their opener and needing a dramatic late turnaround to beat Namibia in their second game, USA are now in a strong position to clinch an all-important top-four spot.
USA Player of the Match, Monank Patel said: “I am really happy for the team, I really wanted a good start from the beginning of the tournament but we didn’t get it. I am pleased I have got my rhythm back in this game. All the teams in this tournament are really good and competitive, it is so close, it depends on who is performing on the day to who can get the win. We want to finish the tournament on a high note and finish in the top four.”
Namibia v Canada
Namibia put the disappointment of their dramatic two-run defeat to USA behind them with a crushing victory over winless Canada at United Cricket Club Ground.
The hosts were put into bat in Windhoek and promptly set about accruing an intimidating total as Stephan Baard and Craig Williams bookended the innings in style.
Baard paced himself perfectly following the early loss of fellow opener JP Kotze for six (caught and bowled by Navneet Dhaliwal), putting on a second-wicket partnership of 73 with Jean Bredenkamp (24) and eventually making 90 off 130 balls.
Even after Baard was bowled by Nikhil Dutta (2-38) to leave Namibia at 188 for five with seven overs remaining, Williams and JJ Smit (35 from 23 balls) picked up the slack as a quickfire partnership of 51 helped them reach a total of 258 for six – Williams ending unbeaten on 65 from 59 balls.
Canada were considered in their reply as Rodrigo Thomas (28), Nitish Kumar (19) and skipper Davy Jacobs (23) all got starts but consistent wickets slowed the run-rate and moved victory out of the Canadians’ reach.
Jan Frylinck (3-24) and Zhivago Groenewald (3-42) were the pick of the Namibian bowlers and although number ten Dillon Heyliger (29 not out) briefly frustrated them as part of a 32-run tenth-wicket stand, Canada were ultimately skittled for 160 in a 98-run defeat.
Namibia Player of the Match, Stephan Baard said: “Very proud of the boys today, we had a very good game and we had to fight hard, conditions were quite tough. I think the boys did very well and we can be proud of that. In a competition like this where everything is on the line, you do everything possible and you don’t want to leave anything until the last moment of the tournament. We hopefully keep winning and end up where we want to be.”
Canada captain, Davy Jacobs said: ‘Disappointed obviously with today’s result, going into today we haven’t won a game and we really needed to get on the board today, but we didn’t. There are two games left and all we can do is focus on that.”
Scores in brief
Oman won by seven wickets at Wanderers Cricket Ground, Windhoek
Hong Kong 176 all out, 48 overs (Babar Hayat 56, Tanwir Afzal 32; Bilal Khan 4-30, Khawar Ali 3-35)
Oman 177-3, 45.3 overs (Jatinder Singh 65, Mohammad Nadeem 31 not out; Kinchit Shah 1-25, Jhatavedh Subramanyan 1-47)
USA won by ten wickets at Affies Park, Windhoek
Papua New Guinea 127 all out, 39.3 overs (Lega Siaka 32, Kiplin Doriga 30; Karima Gore 4-23, Ali Khan 3-41)
USA 128-0, 19.2 overs (Monank Patel 70 not out, Xavier Marshall 54 not out; Chad Soper 0-21)
Namibia won by 98 runs at United Cricket Club Ground, Windhoek
Namibia 258-6, 50 overs (Stephan Baard 90, Craig Williams 65 not out; Saad Bin Zafar 2-32, Nikhil Dutta 2-38)
Canada 160 all out, 42.1 overs (Dillon Heyliger 29 not out, Rodrigo Thomas 28; Jan Frylinck 3-24, Zhivago Groenewald 3-42)
Wednesday, 24 April – PNG v Canada, Wanderers; Namibia v Oman, WAP; Hong Kong v USA, Trustco UNITED
Thursday, 25 April – Rest/Reserve Day
Friday, 26 April – Canada v USA, Wanderers; Namibia v Hong Kong, WAP; PNG v Oman, Trustco UNITED
Saturday, 27 April - Final, Wanderers (ODI); 3rd v 4th Playoff (ODI), WAP; 5th v 6th Playoff, Trustco UNITED
All matches start at 09h30 local time.