Vanuatu, Jersey, Italy and Qatar all progressed to the semi-finals of the ICC WCL Division 5 on a thrilling final day of group matches in South Africa.
The competition marks the start of their global 2023 Cricket World Cup qualifying bid, and there were thrills and spills all day as the eight sides jostled for a semi-final spot.
Italy and Jersey progress to Thursday’s matches with a 100 per cent winning record after they saw off Cayman Islands and Ghana respectively. But Vanuatu and Qatar will be tricky customers after they also sealed their places.
Vanuatu knew only victory would do against Germany to stand any chance of qualifying from Group B, and a superb batting display from Patrick Matautaava ensured just that. The 25-year-old struck a majestic 139 not outfrom 76 balls as Vanuatu chased down Germany’s total of 227, to win by four wickets at Willowmoore Park Cin Benoni.
After losing to Jersey and Ghana earlier this week, Vanuatu was able to play with freedom. And with the ball, Matautaava started positively by removing Daniel Weston for 11 before Wesley Viraliliu dismissed Mudassar Muhammad (17) and Janpreet Singh (13).
Germany, who started the tournament with a one-wicket win against Ghana before a five-wicket defeat to Jersey, responded well as captain Rishi Pillai (71) and Brandon Ess (23) steadied the ship. After Ess was run out, Harmanjot Singh (47) combined nicely with Pillai as Germany continued to build a competitive total. Singh then fell to Matautaava, who finished with two for 33 from ten overs, and off-spinner Jelany Chilia soon took charge of the match - finishing with four for 39.
Vanuatu’s innings got off to a disappointing start when opening batsman Jonathon Dunn was dismissed for nine. A 28-ball 23 from Joshua Rasu got the ball rolling though, and from there Matautaava, batting at number three, took charge of the match. He struck 15 fours and eight sixes in his imperious innings, and guided Vanuatu to a famous win.
Vanuatu skipper Andrew Mansale said: “It was good to have someone step up to the plate.
“We will take everything as it comes and it is just one game at a time for us going forward.”
Germany captain Rishi Pillai added: “We thought we had some decent runs on the board, but the way Patrick batted meant there was not a lot we could do about it.
“I think our bowlers could have bowled better lines and we also dropped a few chances so there is work to be done. We dropped Patrick on zero and he went on to hit 139.”
Another side who cemented its place in the last four was Qatar, who saw off rivals Guernsey by three wickets at Willowmoore Park A.
Guernsey made a strong start to its innings, with Josh Butler and Oliver Newey putting together a 50-partnership for the second wicket after the early loss of Matthew Stokes. Butler (36) played a more measured innings, while Newey (80) was the driving force behind Guernsey’s total of 231-9 off 50 overs.
Mohammed Nadeem was the pick of the Qatar bowlers with three for 49, and the batsmen then did their job superbly in reply as captain Inam-ul-Haq (63) and Qalandar Khan (56) made a strong start. Muhammad Tanveer (47) then took over and helped to steer Qatar across the line, even though Italy staged a late rally.Newey, David Hooper and Max Ellis all took two wickets each, but Qatar clinched victory with two overs to go.
“We made a few changes to the team and everyone played well. The opening batsman did well and our bowlers bowled very well,” said Qatar captain Inam-ul-Haq – who’s side now face Jersey in the last four.
“Hopefully we can go all the way.”
Guernsey’s Jamie Nussbaumer was clearly frustrated with his side’s defeat: “We did not score enough runs or take enough wickets, we just did not do enough to win.”
Elsewhere, Jersey once again flexed its muscle with a 108-run win against Ghana at Willowmoore Park B.
Jersey captain Charles Perchard will be delighted with how all of his top five batsman delivered, with Nat Watkins top scoring with 44. Peter Gough (30), Ben Stevens (35) and Jonty Jenner (33) all maintained their strong form, as the Group B winners compiled 226-8. Obed Agbomadzie finished with three for 40, while Isaac Aboagye also took 2-42 as Ghana’s bowlers rose to the task impressively to limit Jersey.
But Jersey’s bowlers performed magnificently, with Stevens the pick of them as he finished with three for 17 from nine overs as Ghana were all out for 118. Agbomadzie top scored for Ghana with 25, while Peter Ananya hit 22.
Jersey captain Perchard said: “We are very happy to qualify top of the group for the semi-finals, we are just looking forward to tomorrow now.
“We perform best on Jersey wickets but we have adapted well out here, we are looking alright.
“There are plenty of other good sides in this competition and if we have a bad day then we will get beaten so we have to be at our best.”
Ghana’s Peter Ananya said: “I think we batted very poorly and that cost us the game. We should have been able to chase it down but we fell short and need to do work on it.”
The final match to finish was at Willowmoore Park A, where Italy beat Cayman Islands by 122 runs. Rakibul Hasan (52) and Peter Petricola (45) got the Italians off to a good start, before Damian Crowley plundered 105 off 88 balls with 14 fours and one six. Joy Perera then hit a quick-fire 48 not out from 25 balls, including four sixes, as Gayashan Munasinghe’s side raced to a big total.
Cayman Islands got off to a slow start in reply, as Munasinghe removed opener Ricardo Roach for a duck, but Sacha De Alwis (52) and captain Ramon Sealy (89) put them back on track. Their 84-run stand made victory possible, but Italy off-spinner Carl Sandri worked his magic and finished with six for 46 as Italy dismissed Cayman Islands for 204.
Munasinghe said: “We are looking forward to the semi-finals now and we are confident. Everyone is fit and we can’t wait to get going.”
Cayman Islands captain Sealy said: “I am very proud of the effort the boys put in. I am very happy with the way we batted and we are positive going into the next stage of the tournament.”
Scores in brief
Italy beat Cayman Islands by 122 runs at Willowmoore Park A, Benoni
Italy 326-6, 50 overs (Damian Crowley 105, Rakibul Hasan 52, Joy Perera 48; Corey Cato 2-42, Conroy Wright 1-30)
Cayman Islands 204 all out, 42.4 overs (Ramon Sealy 89, Sacha De Alwis 52; Carl Sandri 6-46, Madupi Fernando 2-27, Gayashan Munasinghe 2-41)
Vanuatu beat Germany by four wickets at Willowmoore Park C, Benoni
Germany 227 all out, 49.3 overs (Rishi Pillai 71, Harmanjot Singh 47; Jelany Chilia 4-39, Wesley Viraliliu 2-20, Patrick Matautaava 2-33)
Vanuatu 228-6, 28.2 overs (Patrick Matautaava 139 not out, Ronald Tari 29; Ehsan Latif 4-58, Sajid Liaqat 2-37)
Qatar beat Guernsey by three wickets at Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Guernsey 231-9, 50 overs (Oliver Newey 80, Josh Butler 36, Ben Ferbrache 34; Mohammed Nadeem 3-49, Tamoor Sajjad 2-33)
Qatar 234-7, 47.5 overs (Inam-ul-Haq 63, Qalandar Khan 56, Muhammad Tanveer 47; David Hooper 2-38, Oliver Newey 2-38)
Jersey beat Ghana by 108 runs at Willowmoore Park B, Benoni
Jersey 226-8, 50 overs (Nat Watkins 44, Ben Stevens 35, Jonty Jenner 33; Obed Agbomadzie 3-40, Isaac Aboagye 2-42)
Ghana 118 all out, 36.4 overs (Obed Agbomadzie 25, Peter Ananya 22; Ben Stevens 3-17, Cornelis Bodenstein 2-13, Elliot Miles 2-18)
TEAM M W L T P
Italy 3 3 0 0 6
Qatar 3 2 1 0 4
Guern 3 1 2 0 2
Caym 3 0 3 0 0
TEAM M W L T P
Jersey 3 3 0 0 6
Van 3 1 2 0 2
Ger 3 1 2 0 2
Ghana 3 1 2 0 2
7 September: Germany v Cayman Islands (Willowmoore Park); Guernsey v Ghana (Willowmoore Park A); Italy v Vanuatu (Willowmoore B); Jersey v Qatar (Willowmoore C)