The United States squad broke out into chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in the locker room to celebrate the win and the news that they had been promoted back into Division Three after falling out in Hong Kong last year.
By Peter Della Penna in Kuala Lumpur (on Twitter)
A sensational final day of the group stage saw USA surge to a 37-run win by Duckworth-Lewis Method over Singapore while Nepal defeated Denmark by 25 runs on Duckworth-Lewis Method on Sunday at 2012 ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The combination of results vaulted USA from fourth to second place and secured them promotion to 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Bermuda from April 28-May 5.
"I think against Denmark [the rain] kind of worked against us so at least once now it worked with us," USA's Timroy Allen said after the weather affected win. Allen was named Man of the Match after scoring 45 off 31 balls and taking 2 for 29 in six overs of off-spin. "So we're really happy. I don't mind it today."
USA won the toss and batted first under bright sunny skies at the Bayuemas Oval. Eighteen miles to the east, Nepal also won the toss and batted first at Kinrara Academy Oval against Denmark, who played their must win game without key batsman Freddie Klokker after he left the tournament a match early to play for Dosti Amsterdam in the Netherlands domestic league final. USA made two changes to their lineup from the loss on Friday to Nepal, bringing in Andy Mohammed and Akeem Dodson for Orlando Baker and Aditya Mishra.
Steven Taylor and Sushil Nadkarni opened for USA, putting on an 80-run stand for the first wicket. Taylor cracked five boundaries and three sixes, bringing up a half-century in 45 balls with a massive strike down the ground that caused a replacement ball to be brought out at the end of the 14th over. Taylor fell on his next delivery though, clean bowled by Singapore captain Saad Janjua and finished with USA’s top score on the day.
Over at Kinrara, Nepal dug themselves an early hole as Subash Khakurel, who made 115 on Friday against USA, was dismissed on the second ball of the match. Gyanendra Malla and Paras Khadka also fell cheaply to put Denmark on top at 50 for 3 in the 14th over.
USA captain Steve Massiah came in to bat at number three and added 29 for the third wicket with Nadkarni before the vice-captain was caught behind by Kshitij Shinde off the medium pace of Chetan Suryawanshi for 33. Mohammed came in at number four and scored 10 before holing out to long on, giving Dharmichand Mulewa a wicket with the score now 129 for 3. Aditya Thyagarajan entered at five and reached 4 off 16 balls in the 31st over when he strained a ligament in his right knee, the same one he dislocated in Hong Kong last year, and had to retire at 141 for 3.
By this time, Nepal had climbed back in front in their match thanks to a 91-run partnership between opener Anil Mandal and Sharad Vesawkar and from there maintained the upper hand throughout the rest of the match. Mandal went on to score 113 as Nepal eventually finished with 240 in their 50 overs, a very defendable total behind their spin bowling attack.
Akeem Dodson joined Massiah in the middle at Bayuemas, but both men fell in quick succession to put the first innings in the balance. Massiah went first, driving a return catch to 17-year-old left-arm spinner Abhiraj Singh for 30. Dodson had already offered two chances by the time he was dismissed on 3 off the bowling of Anish Param, caught behind by Suryawanshi, who had started the match as the wicketkeeper and then took over from Shinde again after finishing a brief bowling spell.
USA was 148 for 5 in the 36th over, but Thyagarajan’s return to the middle was a welcome sight after he was declared fit enough to join Allen at the crease. Thyagarajan provided the steady foil to Allen’s explosive hitting and the pair put on 59 crucial runs for the sixth wicket, of which Allen contributed 43. After losing the wicket of Dodson and scoring just one run in the first over of the batting power play in the 36th, Allen and Thyagarajan cracked 41 off the next 24 balls to boost USA closer to 200. Allen finally got out edging behind off medium pacer Amjad Mahboob and the score became 207 for 6.
Thyagarajan fell in the 44th, given LBW for 21 off Mahboob, to make it 223 for 7. Ryan Corns and Elmore Hutchinson calmly added 37 runs for the eighth wicket to take USA to 260 before three wickets fell in five balls to end USA’s innings in 49 overs for 263. Janjua was the one-man wrecking crew for Singapore in that over and finished with 4 for 40 in eight overs. Mulewa bowled a probing spell but only managed to snag 1 for 32 off 10. USA took advantage of five drops by Singapore during the innings, the costliest of which was Taylor at short midwicket on 17. Even though Singapore’s target was 264, USA had to restrict them to 257 in order to pass Singapore on net run rate.
Image (above) - USA celebrates on a damp Bayuemas Oval after gaining promotion to next year's ICC WCL Division Three in Bermuda. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Denmark’s chase at Kinrara got started well before USA took the field for the second innings at Bayuemas. The Danes suffered an early blow in the second over when their leading scorer in the tournament, Carsten Pedersen, was out for 1 in the second over falling to Nepal captain Paras Khadka.
While it was hot and sunny all through USA’s innings, dark clouds rolled in during the lunch break and only two overs were able to be completed before a flash thunderstorm unleashed heavy rains on the ground. A 2 hour and 10 minute delay followed at Bayuemas as attention turned to Kinrara where play was still going on.
Nepal’s spinners once again turned up the heat on an opponent as Denmark stuttered to 67 for 3 in the 21st over. The third wicket was vital for USA as it caused Denmark to fall well behind on Duckworth-Lewis, with the rain moving east from Bayuemas to Kinrara and set to interrupt that match at any moment. Denmark was able to reach 77 for 3 in 25 before rain finally arrived at Kinrara.
Once the rain stopped at Bayuemas, the outfield dried up quickly thanks to a superb drainage system. The few problem areas were soaked up by the ground staff and play eventually resumed with a new target set for Singapore of 186 to win in 27 overs. USA needed to hold them to 182 to prevent Singapore from finishing above them on net run rate.
Suryawanshi and Arjun Mutreja came out slugging and scored 28 runs off the first three overs by Shuja and Hutchinson after play resumed to leave USA shell-shocked. The introduction of spin was the undoing of Singapore though as Muhammad Ghous struck on his fourth ball to turn momentum back in USA’s direction. Mutreja tried to flick him over midwicket but Mohammed ran in from the rope and completed a fantastic catch on the run to get Mutreja for 21 and make it 39 for 1 in the sixth.
Like Singapore, USA had some troubles in the field as two run out chances were missed and another ball was dropped at backward point in the space of seven deliveries in a helter-skelter sequence. Allen was now bowling off-spin in tandem with Ghous and struck in the ninth over, getting Chaminda Kumarage caught at deep midwicket by Rajp, on as a sub for Thyagarajan, to make it 49 for 2 in eight. With skies still very grey, the second wicket also put USA in front on Duckworth-Lewis should rain curtail the match once 20 overs were completed.
USA continued to build more pressure in the field which led to another wicket in the next over as Param was run out for 1 by Corns, connecting underhanded with a direct hit after flying in from backward point to make it 50 for 1 in the 10th. Allen then removed the dangerous Suryawanshi five balls later for 23 and USA could start to sense victory coming closer at 52 for 4.
Christopher Janik, who made a century earlier in the tournament, could not make the most of a second life after a stumping chance was missed by Dodson with Janik on 4. Janik made it to 12 when he lofted Ghous to Taylor at long off to put USA a step closer to winning at 79 for 5 in the 16th.
Not long after, play got restarted at Kinrara as well with Denmark set a new target of 156 from 31 overs, meaning they had to make 79 off 36 balls with seven wickets in hand. On the first ball after play resumed, Andreas Lambert was bowled by Sanjam Regmi for 47 to effectively seal the match for Nepal.
At Bayuemas, Corns continued his bright tournament with the ball by getting Munish Arora caught behind by Dodson for 26 to make it 93 for 6 in the 19th. Singapore’s last roll of the dice was the now two-over batting power play in the 23rd and 24th overs as rain returned to the field. However, Hutchinson and Shuja showed no signs of having trouble gripping the ball and each man bounced back with a wicket after rough opening spells.
Hutchinson bowled a nerveless 23rd which began with the wicket of Janjua for 8 to make it 118 for 7. Shuja then capped the 24th as Shinde was caught on the point boundary by Rajp for 22. The umpires tried to give Singapore every opportunity to stay out there and finish the match on the field of play while a steady rain came down during both overs, but once the eighth wicket fell, the umpires took both teams off the field with Singapore resigned to defeat.
A half hour after restarting at Kinrara, the match ended with Denmark on 130 for 9. Nepal had clinched first place in the group stage and promotion to Division Three while the other promotion spot was now USA’s to claim. With only seven minutes remaining until the cutoff time of 6:45 p.m. and a minimum of 10 minutes needed for the umpires to inspect the field once the rain stopped, play was called off at Bayuemas. USA was declared the winner by 37 runs with Singapore way off the par score of 166 after 24 overs. The United States squad broke out into chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” in the locker room to celebrate the win and the news that they had been promoted back into Division Three after falling out in Hong Kong last year.
Ghous finished with 2 for 20 in six overs. Corns also contributed a vital 1 for 8 in two overs as USA’s wicket-taking spin trio on the day of Ghous, Corns and Allen gave up their runs at a hair over four an over between the three of them.
In the day’s other match, Malaysia beat Tanzania by five wickets. Malaysia opener Rakesh Madhavan scored 102 to chase down Tanzania’s 187 in 37.1 overs to give the host nation their first win of the tournament. Both teams will have a rematch in the fifth place game on Monday at Bayuemas Oval.
Singapore and Denmark will square off in the third place game at Selangor Turf Club on Monday. Meanwhile Nepal and USA will clash for the eighth time in four tournaments on Monday in the Division Four championship match at Kinrara Academy Oval. Both teams will then have seven months to get ready to face Bermuda, Italy, Oman and Uganda at Division Three next year.
DreamCricket.com’s live coverage of the 2012 ICC WCL Division Four championship match between USA and Nepal from Kinrara Academy Oval begins at 10 a.m. Monday, 10 p.m. EST and 7 p.m. PST on Sunday night in America.