World Cup Qualifier wrap: West Indies seal super six progression

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Rovman Powell struck a stunning maiden ODI century under pressure and Jason Holder spearheaded his second consecutive recovery effort to help the West indies to a third straight win that confirms their place in the Super Sixes.

The duo guided Windies to 257/8 in 50 overs after they had been 83/5 in their Group A match, before four wickets apiece for Kemar Roach (4/27 from 10) and Kesrick Williams (4/43 from 8.2) handed Holder’s team a 52-run victory.

The Irish reply got off to a bad start with each of the top three (William Porterfield 0; Paul Stirling 18; Andy Balbirnie 9) out early to leave them 32/3 from 11 overs. Ed Joyce (63), Niall O’Brien (34), Kevin O’Brien (38) and Gary Wilson (18) each made contributions but none kicked on and with the run-rate creeping up, they collapsed from 166/5 to 205 all out as Windies’ lower-order rally continued to pay dividends.

And what a rally it had been. Holder and Powell added 86 for the sixth wicket after Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin and Andy McBrine had reduced Windies to 83/5, and 24-year-old Powell eventually kicked on to a fantastic 100-ball 101 from No.7 – his maiden ODI century.

Powell, who took his time to kick on, hit out at the death, striking seven sixes and as many fours in a memorable knock to lift his team out of trouble.

Ireland had won a good toss and put Windies in. Their decision to open the bowling with a combination of McBrine’s spin and Murtagh’s pace kept the explosive first-wicket pair of Chris Gayle (14) and Evin Lewis (9) quiet.

Rankin got a breakthrough in his first over, getting Lewis to hit to McBrine to point.

Murtagh, who had been taken for a straight six by Gayle, was rewarded for keeping up the pressure, with the left-hander nicking behind for a sedate 28-ball 14.

Neither Marlon Samuels nor Shai Hope stuck around to get beyond single-digit scores, with Samuels nicking another Murtagh delivery, while Shimron Hetmyer threw away a promising start.

With half of the Windies line-up back in the hutch inside 20 overs, Holder, who had rescued his side from a similar situation two days before against PNG, had the responsibility to rebuild again. He made the most of a dropped catch by Paul Stirling and survived a run-out chance as the pressure was transferred back onto the Irish fielders.

He brought up his half-century in 70 balls with a towering leg-side six, but fell the very next ball, top-edging Murtagh as William Porterfield held on to a skyer.

Powell, though, stayed to finish what he had started. Having taken 50 deliveries to get his first 20 runs, he brought up a patient half-century and then shifted up a gear.

His hundred came with another massive six into the press box window. It was the best score by a Windies No.7 and pushed his side up to a match-winning score – and, in the process, a strong position in the tournament.

Despite a spirited 85 from Anshy Rath, Hong Kong were comfortably beaten by Zimbabwe in the teams’ Group B match at Queens Sports Club.

Defending 263, the hosts put in a strong all-round bowling display to complete their third successive victory of the Cricket World Cup Qualifier.

Not for the first time, off-spinner Sikandar Raza was perhaps the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers, his three wickets costing just 30 from his 10 overs as Hong Kong’s run rate never looked like reaching the level necessary to mount a realistic challenge. But the wickets were spread around, with Kyle Jarvis (2/20) and Tendai Chatara (1/18) making early inroads with the new ball to make up for the loss of Brian Vitori.

Leg-spinning skipper Graeme Cremer took 2/42 and slow left-armer Sean Williams took 2/44, with Hong Kong’s next top-scorer after Rath their wicket-keeper Scott McKechnie, who made just 18 off 48 balls.

With No.11 Nadeem Ahmed up the other end, there was at least an outside chance of Rath reaching a consolation century but he switched to all-out attack in an effort to get there and was eventually caght on the cover boundary off Kyle Jarvis as Zimbabwe sealed what was, in the end, a convincing win.

Earlier, Hamilton Masakadza enjoyed a welcome return to form with a measured 110-ball 84 before the Hong Kong bowlers, led by Ehsan Nawaz, struck at the death to restrict the hosts to 263/9.Put into bat, Zimbabwe got off to a flying start courtesy Cephas Zhuwao, who hit six fours and three sixes in a 25-ball 45 before holing out at backward square-leg off Nawaz. His 53-run association with Solomon Mire took just 4.5 overs. Mire, too, departed soon for 20 after being undone by the left-arm spin of Nadeem Ahmed.

Coming in at No.3, Masakadza curbed his natural aggressive instincts as he shepherded the innings well on his way to his 33rd one-day international half-century. He found a perfect ally in Brendan Taylor and the experienced duo carved a 91-run stand for the third wicket in a shade over 18 overs.

Just when Taylor looked set for another big one, Nawaz struck as he lured the former Zimbabwe captain into a drive which he could only hit as far as Anshuman Rath at cover.

With a 300-plus score looming, Hong Kong did well to pull things back. Aizaz Khan, the medium pacer, was at the thick of things as he first claimed the key wicket of Sikandar Raza for 10, and then accounted for Masakadza in his very next over with Nawaz plucking a stunner diving forward at short third man.

At 216/5 in the 38th over, Zimbabwe were forced to rebuild, and the Hong Kong bowlers made sure the hosts were made to earn every run. Craig Ervine and Sean Williams forged a brief 24-run stand for the seventh wicket before the latter became Nawaz’s third victim.

Zimbabwe were unable to find the late impetus with a flurry of wickets hurting their chances, and they eventually finished with a much smaller total than they might have hoped for.

Nawaz was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers with 4/47 in his nine overs, while Ehsan Khan and Aizaz chipped in with two wickets each.

Afghanistan cruised to an easy and much-needed win over over Nepal in their Group B game at Bulawayo Athletic Club, to just about keep their hopes of Super Six qualification alive.

Chasing just 195 for victory, Afghanistan wrapped up their first win of the tournament by six wickets with 11.2 overs to spare.

Captain Rashid Khan sprung a surprise by walking out to open the innings and got things off to a lively start, hitting five fours during a 14-ball stay that reaped 21. His partner Javed Ahmadi was more sedate, building his way to 26 off 54 balls and from 93/2, Nepal really needed to force a dramatic collapse if they were to achieve an unlikely victory. It never came.

No.3 Rahmat Shah hit 46 off 75 balls and Mohammad Nabi 34 off 32 before both were removed by Dipendra Singh Airee. Following their recent results, there will have been a few nerves among the Afghanistan camp but they didn’t show, Najibullah Zadran bringing about an early finish with a brisk 47-ball 52 featuring three sixes and four fours – including an 18-run over off left-arm spinner Basant Regmi to put the result beyond doubt.

Earlier, the spin trio of Mohammad Nabi (4/33), Rashid Khan (3/45) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/24) did the bulk of the damage, while Shapoor Zadran, the fiery paceman, got two wickets towards the close to end with 2/32, but the standout performance came from the gallant Nepal captain Paras Khadka, who almost single-handedly kept his team in the fight with an 82-ball 75.

Mujeeb struck as early as in the fourth over, sending back Anil Sah, but the experienced firm of Gyanendra Malla, the opener, and Khadka then kept the Afghan bowlers at bay for 22 overs, adding 92 runs for the second wicket. Khadka was by far the more aggressive of the two, and Malla had contributed only 23 in 69 balls when he became Rashid’s first victim.

One wicket brought two for Afghanistan, as Khadka was dismissed soon after by Nabi, his wonderful innings studded with 10 fours and a six, and Nabi quickly accounted for Rohit Paudel too to leave Nepal at 123/4.

That Nepal still managed to bat for 49.5 overs and add some decent meat to their total was down to Dipendra Airee, who scored a 41-ball 32, and Aarif Sheikh, who contributed 23 from 36 balls, even as Nabi added the scalps of Sheikh and Sompal Kami to his kitty.

The result means Afghanistan must now hope for Nepal to beat Hong Kong on Tuesday.

The Netherlands completed a comfortable 57-run victory over Papua New Guinea in their Group A clash at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 at Old Hararians Club.

Defending a relatively modest 216, the Dutch then ran through the PNG batting line-up with experienced left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe taking 4/46.

PNG skipper Assad Vala was the only top six batsman to offer meaningful resistance to the Dutch bowling effort, compiling a 58-ball 44 punctuated by five boundaries.

But following the third wicket of Sese Bau – who was lbw to the left-arm spin of Roelof van der Merwe – PNG lost seven wickets for just 91 runs, with wicket-keeper Kiplin Doriga the second-top-scorer with a well-made 32 not out before he ran out of partners.

Though van der Merwe was clearly the standout bowler for the Netherlands the rest of the wickets were shared around between Fred Klaasen (2/25), Pieter Seelaar (1/24), Timm van der Gugten (1/20) and Shane Snater (2/35) in a professional all-round display.

Earlier, Norman Vanua, Mahuru Dai, Alei Nao and Charles Amini picked up two wickets apiece as PNG kept the Dutchmen to a potentially manageable 216/8.

It could have been worse for the Netherlands had it not been for a battling 53 not out in 65 balls from Sikandar Zulfiqar from No.7, which went a long way in lifting the team from 98/5 and past 200.

The innings started well enough for the Netherlands after they were put in, with Scott Edwards (27) and Ben Cooper (26), the openers, 57 for the first wicket in just over 13 overs.

Once they were separated, though, with Amini trapping Edwards lbw, four more wickets fell in a hurry. Cooper was out caught and bowled by Dai, Amini sent Ryan ten Doeschate back cheaply, Nao had Bas de Leede caught behind, and Peter Borren, the Netherlands captain, became Vanua’s first victim.

Roelof van der Merwe and Zulfiqar, however, steadied the ship with a 56-run stand for the sixth wicket, van der Merwe contributing 38 in 41 balls, with five fours, before falling to Dai.

Zulfiqar carried on and batted till the end, hitting three fours and a six along the way, while Pieter Seelar (23 in 18 balls) and Timm van der Gugten (13 in 9 balls) lent him good support in the end overs.

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