Afghanistan stretched by Canada, Stirling fires Ireland to an impressive victory over Kenya
Rights-free audio interviews of Ashish Bagai, Nawroz Mangal and Kabir Khan available for download at http://www.icc-cricket.com/media_interactive_zone/audio_interview.php
Photographs from the Netherlands v Scotland match available for free downloading through ICC FTP site; images from Ireland v Kenya match available through Getty Images
Scotland snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when it beat the Netherlands by one wicket with one ball in hand at the end of a nerve-wrecking opening round match of the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 at VRA in Amstelveen on Thursday.
Chasing 235 runs for victory, Scotland looked dead and buried when it was reduced to 121-6 in 30 overs. However, Moneeb Iqbal (63), a late call-up for the event, led a late fight-back and in partnerships with Matthew Parker and captain Gordon Drummond kept Scotland's slim hopes alive.
But when Moneeb and Gordon Goudie departed in a space of three balls to leave Scotland reeling at 225-9, all the responsibility fell on the broad shoulders of Drummond as his side required 10 from 10 deliveries which then became eight off the last over.
The final twists to the tale came when Tom de Grooth dropped Drummond off Mark Jonkman's penultimate delivery of the match with Scotland still requiring three runs for victory. The batsmen crossed for a single from de Grooth's mistake and then, with two needed Jonkman, bowling to last man Ross Lyons, delivered a wide to level the scores.
The batsmen still ran, thinking it was the final delivery of the match and when the ball was relayed to Jonkman at the bowler's end he still had the chance to run out Lyons and secure a tie. But he missed the stumps from close range and the Scots had secured an amazing win.
Moneeb, who added 52 for the seventh wicket with Parker and another 52 for the eighth wicket with Drummond, faced 92 balls and his innings included three fours. Drummond, who was given out obstructing the field but called back by the Netherlands captain Peter Borren, hit two fours and a six in his 32-ball 33 not out while Richie Berrington was the other notable batsman with scored 37.
For the Netherlands, Mudassar Bukhari was the most impressive and successful bowler with figures of 3-31.
Drummond was delighted with his side's thrilling win. He said: "It was a fantastic victory considering the position we were in at 80-odd for five. It shows the character of the team. We did the same against India A last week. We just never give up and can put on partnerships down the order.
"As soon as we got to about 190-7, I thought we were in a decent position as we still had the powerplay to come and there would be more gaps in the field as a result. We could always get 35 from five overs in that powerplay but then we lost two quick wickets and it could have gone either way at the end."
The Scotland captain praised Moneeb for his cool and calculated innings. "He's got a lot of character. Last week, he did the same against India A. He's a genuine all-rounder, a leg-spinner and now he's showing his abilities with the bat. He's very good at manipulating the ball into gaps."
Drummond also praised Borren for his sportsmanship. "The ball just hit me as I was coming back for the third run and there was an appeal. The umpire (Buddhi Pradhan) gave me out (after consulting with fellow umpire Kumar Dharmasena) but then Peter Borren called me back. He plays it very hard but that really was a great gesture in the Spirit of Cricket."
Earlier, Tom Cooper hit an elegant 87 off 130 balls to help the Netherlands reach 234-6 after the home side had elected to bat first. His innings included nine fours. However, it was Bas Zuiderent who gave the required impetus to the innings with a blistering 35-ball 55 not out that included four fours and two sixes.
Cooper, who was later adjudged player of the match, said: "It was pleasing to get some runs but I'd swap them all for a win.
"It was difficult early on and Scotland's bowlers bowled well but it was a case of just trying to hang in there and building a platform for the latter overs and Bas Zuiderent capitalised on that superbly.
"We've just got to pick ourselves up and try and get a "one" in the win column. That won't be easy after a loss like that but there is a long way to go in this tournament."
At VOC in Rotterdam, a century second-wicket partnership between Paul Stirling and Alex Cusack guided defending champion Ireland to an impressive seven-wicket victory over former winner Kenya.
Stirling hit a career-best 87 and Cusack chipped in with an unbeaten 59 as the two batsmen put on 127 runs in 108 balls to help Ireland achieve a modest target of 164 with 61 balls and seven wickets to spare.
Stirling slapped eight fours and a six in his 106-ball innings while Cusack, who later adjudged player of the match, struck five fours in a well-constructed 59 that came off 95 balls.
Earlier, Kenya had struggled to 163 all out and was bnowled out wqith 4.3 ovcers unused in its innings. Alex Obanda top-scored with 40 and Collins Obuya, a hero of the ICC Cricket World Cup campaign of 2003, made 30.
However, the Africans struggled in the face of disciplined bowling from John Mooney (2-26), Alex Cusack (2-29) and captain Trent Johnston (2-32).
Stirling, reflecting on performance, said: "I'm happy to be among the runs so early in the tournament. It's important that you set the trend with your performance and I think we have done that today.
"I enjoyed batting out there and though I couldn't score what would have been my first ODI century, I have no regrets. We were chasing a small score because we bowled very well. I thought the more you stayed at the wicket, the easier the batting got."
At VCC in Voorburg, half-centuries by captain Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali steered Afghanistan to a six-wicket victory over Canada.
Mangal hit an unbeaten 70 off 58 balls with six fours, Shahzad clubbed six fours and a six in a run-a-ball 57 and Ali faced 89 balls for his 50 that included two fours as Afghanistan reached a 258-run victory target in 48.4 overs.
Two big partnerships were the cornerstone of Afghanistan's victory. For the second wicket, Ali and Shahzad put on 87 runs while Mangal and Asghar Stanikzai (28) added 82 runs for the fourth wicket.
Earlier, Canada captain Ashish Bagai hit his 11th career half-century in his 47th appearance to help the North American side collect 257-7 in the allotted 50 overs. Bagai hit five fours in a 122-ball innings.
Samiullah Shenwari was well rewarded for bowling to a teasing line and length when he finished with figures of 3-43. Khaliq Dad bagged 2-31 and Shahpoor Zadran snapped up 2-46.
Scores in brief:
At VRA, Amstelveen, Canada beat the Netherlands by one wicket
The Netherlands 234-6, 50 overs
(Tom Cooper 87, Bas Zuiderent 55 not out, Wesley Barresi 35, Tom de Grooth 21; Gordon Drummond 2-27, Gordon Goudie 2-49)
Scotland 235-9, 50 overs
(Moneeb Iqbal 63, Richie Berrington 37, Gordon Drummond 33 not out, Oliver Hairs 23, Matthew Parker 22; Mudassar Bukhair 3-31)
: Scotland 2 The Netherlands 0
Man of the match
: Tom Cooper (The Netherlands)
At VOC, Rotterdam, Ireland beat Kenya by seven wickets
Kenya 163 all out, 45.3 overs
(Alex Obanda 40, Collins Obuya 30; John Mooney 2-26, Alex Cusack 2-29, Trent Johnston 2-32)
Ireland 164-3, 39.5 overs
(Paul Stirling 87, Alex Cusack 59 not out)
: Ireland 2 Kenya 0
Player of the match
: Alex Cusack (Ireland)
At VCC, Voorburg, Afghanistan beat Canada by six wickets
Canada 257-7, 50 overs
(Ashish Bagai 82, Hiral Patel 43, Umar Bhatti 32, Jimmy Hansra 30 not out; Samiullah Shenwari 3-43, Khaliq Dad 2-31, Shahpoor Zadran 2-46)
Afghanistan 258-4, 48.4 overs
(Nawroz Mangal 70 not out, Mohammad Shahzad 57, Noor Ali 50, Asghar Stanikzai 28)
Man of the match
: Nawroz Mangal (Afghanistan)
: Afghanistan 2 Canada 0
Canada v Scotland, VRA, Amstelveen (match to be live streamed on the tournament and ESPN STAR Sports websites)
Ireland v Afghanistan, VOC, Rotterdam
The Netherlands v Kenya, VCC, Voorburg
Play starts 1100 local time (0900 GMT)