USA bounced back on day two as their bowlers – led by Ali Khan with a five-wicket haul– dramatically denied hosts Namibia in the final over to win by just two runs in a stunning game of cricket in Windhoek.
The top four teams at the end of the week in Namibia will earn ODI status and join the newly-formed ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 – where they will play 36 ODIs over a two-and-a-half year period – so while Oman are currently in pole position, there is plenty to play for in the next round of games on Tuesday and Team USA’s nerve-jangling 2 run win could prove crucial towards the end of the week.
It was a dramatic conclusion at Wanderers Cricket Ground that saw the hosts Namibia defeated by the Team USA with just two balls remaining and only two runs needed.
Namibia’s decision to field looked justified when USA openers Xavier Marshall (2) – a former West Indian international – and Monank Patel (14) were removed cheaply by JJ Smit as two of his five wickets.
But number four Aaron Jones produced a virtuoso performance as a third-wicket partnership of 75 alongside Steven Taylor (44) and a 127-run fourth-wicket stand with Hayden Walsh Jnr (57) helped set a defendable total.
🗨️ “I was just trying to stick to my strength and that’s bowling yorkers” @IamAlikhan23 talks us through his quite brilliant 5 wicket haul that was crucial in #TeamUSA‘s 2 run win and won him the Player of the Match award as USA sealed their first win at #WCL2 pic.twitter.com/k09KQtrUKH
— USA Cricket (@usacricket) April 21, 2019
Jones smashed nine fours and a pair of sixes in an unbeaten knock of 103 to move USA to 250/7 from their 50 overs.
Twenty-four hours after easily chasing down 119 against Papua New Guinea, Namibia looked well on course for a second win in as many days when skipper Gerhard Erasmus and Jean Bredenkamp brought them to 156 for two.
Although Saurabh Netravalkar (3/50) dismissed Erasmus for 92 and Bredenkamp for 55 in quick succession, the hosts still looked favorites thanks to useful contributions from Craig Williams (24) and Christi Viljoen (30).
However, from needing just 18 runs with five wickets in hand, a brilliant spell of bowling from Ali Khan (5/46) turned the tide – the seamer taking three wickets in the penultimate over of the match to leave Namibia needing seven from the final six balls and just one wicket in hand.
Number nine Karl Birkenstock and number 11 Zhivago Groenewald nurdled four off the first three balls of Netravalkar’s over but Groenewald was then run out by the bowler to seal a nerve-jangling two-run win for USA.
USA Player of the Match, Muhammad Ali Khan said: “First of all a great team effort and I am glad we came out on top. It was a tough game, it came down to the last over and we are happy with the win, as most importantly we needed this win to get things started.”
Namibia Head Coach, Pierre de Bruyn said: “We’ve played two games, won one and lost one, there is still a lot of cricket to be played in this tournament. We need to improve in certain areas and we will. The guys gave their best, it was a close game and we need to bounce back.”
Scores in brief
USA won by two runs at Wanderers Cricket Ground, Windhoek
USA 250/7, 50 overs (Aaron Jones 103 not out, Hayden Walsh 57, Steven Taylor 44; JJ Smit 5/63)
Namibia 248 all out, 49.4 overs (Gerhard Erasmus 92, Jean Bredenkamp 55; Ali Khan 5/46, Saurabh Netravalkar 3/50)
Oman won by 99 runs at Affies Park, Windhoek
Oman 285/7, 50 overs (Zeeshan Maqsood 109, Aqib Ilyas 86; Romesh Eranga 3/57, Nitish Kumar 2/45)
Canada 186 all out, 43.2 overs (Nitish Kumar 57, Bhavindu Adhihetty 28; Fayyaz Butt 3/29, Mohammad Nadeem 2/13)
Papua New Guinea won by three wickets at United Cricket Club Ground, Windhoek
Hong Kong 222/9, 50 overs (Anshuman Rath 85, Ahsan Abbasi 37; Damien Ravu 2/35, Charles Amini 2/36)
Papua New Guinea 223/7, 47.4 overs (Tony Ura 87, Jason Kila 36 not out; Ehsan Khan 4/36, Aizaz Khan 2/39)
UPCOMING TOURNAMENT MATCHES
Monday, 22 April – Rest/Reserve Day
Tuesday, 23 April – Hong Kong v Oman, Wanderers; PNG v USA, WAP; Namibia v Canada, Trustco UNITED
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.