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Middlesex County cricketer Gareth Berg scored 90 from 47 balls setting up Italy for a successful chase against USA in Group A of the ICC World T20 Qualifier. But it was Carl Sandri's sixteen-ball 29* that brought home the pepperoni for Italy.
After winning the toss and opting to bat, USA posted a robust 160 for 5 as Steve Taylor returned to form with a 56-ball 91 that included six 4s and five 6s. Akeem Dodson and Japen Patel were run out for 7 and 5 respectively, but Karan Ganesh (36) hung around for a 102 run partnership with Steven Taylor for the third wicket.
Untroubled by USA's bowling, the Italian opening pair - Gareth Berg and Andrew Northcote, both of South African cricketing heritage, raced away to 69 from 8 overs. Even after Northcote fell to McGarrell, Berg continued his attack, hitting McGarrell for a six and a four in the last two balls of the same over. By the time Berg finally fell to Karan Ganesh in the last ball of the thirteenth, Italy were 102 for 3 and needed just 59 runs from 42 balls.
With two new batsmen in, the brakes were applied by USA bowlers. Karan Ganesh bowled a tight 15th over giving just 4 runs and Neil McGarrell followed with a highly economical 16th over in which 3 runs were conceded.
But Carl Sandri ensured that the match was never totally out of Italy's control and seventeen runs came off the next two overs.
With 15 runs needed from 12 balls, it was still anyone's game. McGarrell bowled the crucial nineteenth over and Italy scored just 2 runs in the first five balls, swinging the pendulum in USA's direction. Carl Sandri creamed McGarrell's last ball for a six bringing the match once again within reach for Italy.
Italy needed 6 to tie and 7 to win at the start of the final over. Timroy Allen, Muhammad Ghous and Karan Ganesh had finished their quota of 4 overs. As American fans waited to find out who would get to bowl the last over - the choice was between Elmore Hutchinson who had conceded 14 runs in his second over or Adam Sanford who had only bowled one over in which 9 runs were scored.
The captain handed the ball to Adam Sanford, the Leeward Islands and West Indies veteran who has 30 Test wickets to his credit. What followed was anti-climactic. Sanford bowled two wides in a row at the start of the 20th over and pretty much gifted the match to Italy. After that, only 4 runs were needed from six balls. Alessandro Bonora took a single giving strike to the big-hitting Carl Sandri. Sandri took two and retained strike again. To compound USA's and Sanford's woes, the umpire signaled that Sanford had just bowled a no-ball. Sandri smashed the free-hit delivery to the boundary sealing a six wicket win for Italy.
Full scorecard: http://www.icc-cricket.com/match/worldt20q-2013/29