Nepal grabbed the Emerging Cricket headlines this week, trouncing the USA in the final match of their Cricket World Cup League 2 leg in Kathmandu. A series of records fell – in the middle for just 72 deliveries, the Americans posted the shortest completed innings in men’s ODIs as they were bundled out for the joint-lowest total of 35, before Nepal knocked off the runs to end the match as the shortest in ODI history at 104 deliveries.
Overall though, it was Oman who came out on top, winning all four of their matches to surge into first place on the CWCL2 points table. Aqib Ilyas led the charge with both bat and ball, topping the run charts with 302 (including a pair of centuries), and utilising the spin-friendly conditions to scalp 10 wickets with his legbreaks. Skipper Zeeshan Maqsood was also in fine form, scoring 208 runs and taking 7 wickets with left arm orthodox, as the Omanis showed why they are tipped as favourites to progress from CWCL2.
Nepal’s impressive home crowd did have plenty cheer for though, as the hosts recorded 2 victories against the USA to get off the mark in CWCL2. A dream debut saw Sushan Bari top the wicket tally with his left-arm orthodox, claiming 11 wickets, while pace spearhead Karan KC delivered a pair of 4-wicket hauls and legspinning superstar Sandeep Lamichanne lit up the rout of the USA with a career-best 6/16. The batting was vulnerable once again, though Nepal will be encouraged by the unearthing of 15-year old Kushal Malla, who spanked a 50 on debut to become the youngest-ever to reach the milestone in men’s ODIs.
The Americans, however, had a torrid time in Kathmandu, their final-match humiliation capping a miserable tour. After displaying strong away form during their series in the UAE last December, it was a disappointing effort for a team which has shown glimpses of brilliance but still struggles for consistency. Some of their tactics raised eyebrows, repeatedly shuffling the batting order and arguably underbowling their spinners in the turning conditions (Karima Gore, their leading spinner in the last year, bowled less than half his quota of overs). However, it was their chronic inability to play spin which ultimately cost them. John Holland’s pair of disciplined half-centuries spared some blushes, as he came in third on the series run charts with 168, but it wasn’t enough as his teammates repeatedly collapsed around him. And with the USA’s next assignment the April series at Lauderhill, a venue where spin was highly effective in their CWCL2 leg against Namibia and PNG, the batsmen have a lot to work on.
Joining them in Florida will be Scotland and UAE, two teams with contrasting off-field news this week. For Scotland, it was pride as the cricketing achievements of skipper Kyle Coetzer were recognised with him receiving an MBE in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
The UAE meanwhile were rocked by yet more instability as head coach Dougie Brown was sacked in mysterious circumstances, with Robin Singh announced as his replacement – despite not being able to commit to the role full time. Luminaries of the Associate game lined up to support a coach who has been praised for his leadership in rebuilding the scandal-plagued Emirati squad.
Still in the Gulf, and while Oman’s men triumphed in Nepal, the women’s side hosted a 4-match T20I series against Germany in the Al-Amerat facility. The visitors stumbled in their 35-over warmup match, before storming the short format with a 4-0 series sweep. Comprehensive victories in each match were set up by a strong batting performance from the German top order, with Janet Ronalds, Christina Gough and Stephanie Frohnmayer all in the runs. Both teams were sloppy with the ball, however, and the number of wides will be a concern as the women’s game prepares for the qualification journey towards the 2021 T20 WC.
In other European news, Netherlands captain (and EC Ambassador) Pieter Seelar celebrated the birth of his first child, as wife Christina gave birth to their son Blake Haryanto in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Tanzania were also welcoming a new arrival, with Steve Tikolo announced as head coach. The former Kenya great continues his commitment to the East Africa region, taking up the position after moving on from his four-year tenure with the Ugandan men’s team.
Some disappointing news out of Asia this week, as China pulled out of the Eastern Region T20 Asia Cup qualifying tournament, due to concerns over the Coronavirus outbreak. The tournament is still scheduled to take place in Thailand this March, but there are fears it could be postponed as the Thai government takes increasingly stringent measures to combat the spread of the disease.
Finally, anti-Coronavirus measures have also thwarted Hong Kong’s home bilateral series against Malaysia, though fortunately the two teams this week agreed to relocate to Kuala Lumpur’s Kinrara Oval. A revival of the historical Interport matches, the series will see 5 T20Is played between 20-26 February.
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