Windhoek (Namibia), Mar 31 (IANS): United Arab Emirates (UAE) were stunned by a determined United States of America (USA) side while Namibia were too good for Jersey on the fourth day of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off, here on Thursday.
The UAE innings was rattled early after skipper Muhammad Waseem fell to Saurabh Netravalkar in the very first over. Not unlike the Namibian approach on Wednesday, Vriitya Aravind (57) and Aryan Lakra (26) looked to keep their foot on the pedal. While their strategy worked perfectly on Ali Khan, the more disciplined Netravalkar kept the scoring rate in check from his end.
The middle overs saw USA bowlers fight back through Nisarg Patel. This included a phase of play where UAE lost two batters, including Aravind, in a space of 10 balls. Former skipper Rohan Mustafa and the dangerous Asif Khan then forged an important stand to uplift the Asian team.
Asif signalled his intent by taking 19 off the 37th over bowled by Gajanand Singh. The duo looked all set to guide UAE towards a formidable total nearing 300. However, a run out got rid of the set Mustafa and Aayan Khan's dismissal for a duck against Ali left UAE at 207/6 by the 40th over.
Asif, whose record 41-ball hundred had lit up Kirtipur a couple of weeks back, blasted an 81-ball century to get UAE to a competitive 279/9.
The USA didn't throw their bats around from ball one and looked to preserve wickets. At the same time, their strategy was to steadily progress towards the target. Hence, even with the losses of Shayan Jahangir (22) and Sushant Modani (39) in the ninth and 19th over respectively, the American side reached 127/2 at the halfway stage.
Eight wickets remained in their hands while the side needed just over six runs per over to win the game. UAE, on the other hand, were in desperate need of breakthroughs. However, their troubles were exacerbated when skipper Monank Patel too picked his scoring rate up to match Saiteja Mukkamalla's aggression. USA added almost six an over between overs 26 to 35, even as UAE missed several chances.
Mukkamalla completed his ton in the 45th over with Gajanand Singh offering solid support from the other end. The late wicket of Singh in the penultimate over raised UAE's hopes, but Jessy Singh hit a four off the final ball of the 49th over to spark celebrations in the USA camp.
USA have now won two matches to move up to third in the points table with a net run rate of +0.404.
BOWLERS HELP NAMIBIA WIN
Namibia carried the momentum from Wednesday's win to their new-ball performance on Thursday, with Ben Shikongo, Ruben Trumpelmann and Ben Scholtz each striking to leave Jersey at 32/3 after 11 overs.
After this, the European side found its heroes in Jonty Jenner and Josh Lawrenson, who added 80 runs from 104 balls. The duo brought the game back to parity but just when Jersey looked like they were turning the screws on Namibia, Shikongo bowled a searing inswinger to get rid of Lawrenson.
Hereafter, Namibia's bowlers got wickets at regular intervals. By the time Jenner was dismissed in the 44th over after having compiled a useful 73, the Eagles had ensured that a score of 220, a realistic possibility at the 40th over mark, was beyond Jersey's reach.
In response, the tournament hosts were rocked early on in their chase. They lost openers Shaun Fouché (0) and Nikolaas Davin (10) within the first four overs.
This saw the arrival of skipper Gerhard Erasmus, who continued in the same vein of form that he had shown on Wednesday. Taking a couple of overs to settle in, Erasmus blasted back-to-back fours off Julius Sumerauer in the seventh over to show his intent. Michael van Lingen, who had scored a duck and one in Namibia's first two games, also took off and made the most of this opportunity.
It looked like the Eagles were batting on a different strip as Namibia reached 155/2 at the halfway stage. The victory was a mere formality after this and Namibia achieved the same in 32.1 overs. van Lingen scored his fourth ODI hundred while Erasmus finished unbeaten on 88, in an unbroken stand of 198 runs.
This big win means that other than two crucial points, Namibia have also improved their net run rate. This is a massive boost for the African team in their quest for a top-two finish in the event.
United Arab Emirates 279/9 in 50 overs (Asif Khan 102, Vriitya Aravind 57; Nisarg Patel 2-35, Jessy Singh 2-54) lost to United States of America 281/4 in 49 overs (Saiteja Mukkamalla 129, Monank Patel 50; Junaid Siddique 3-49) by 5 wickets.
Jersey 213/9 in 50 overs (Jonty Jenner 76, Josh Lawrenson 42; Ben Shikongo 3-42, Ruben Trumpelmann 3-24) lost to Namibia 216/2 in 32.1 overs (Michael van Lingen 110 not out, Gerhard Erasmus 88 not out; Julius Sumerauer 1-47) by 8 wickets.