Shocks and surprises on opening day of World Twenty20 qualifiers

Wed, Feb 10, 2010 1:07 PM

The opening day of the World Twenty20 qualifier in United Arab Emirates saw lots of shocks and surprises as the race to qualify for the West Indies blew wide open.

At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, wildcard United States of America stunned Scotland by six wickets and up the road in Dubai, Afghanistan continued its good form beating Ireland by 13 runs. It wasn't all bad news for the European teams however, with Netherlands overcoming anxious moments to defeat a spirited Canadian side. In the other game the hosts UAE surprised Kenya by 15 runs.

All four beaten sides are now in must-win situations ahead of Wednesday's games, while they are also aware that may not be enough as Thursday will be judgment day when all four face each other; Ireland go head-to-head with Scotland and Kenya take on Netherlands.

The architects of the USA's victory with five balls to spare were opener Carl Wright who clubbed eight fours in a 57-ball 62 and Lennox Cush struck three fours and a six in a 39-ball 41.

Earlier, Scotland's 120-7 revolved around captain Gavin Hamilton who top scored with 41 that came off 53 balls and included three fours.

Hamilton admitted his side needed to win both remaining group matches to progress to the Super Four stage. "I think credit should be given where it is due. The USA bowled well with the new ball and our batting wasn't up to the standard against them.

"Every game is now a must-win. We're going to have a look at the team tonight and we may well have to do a bit of a reshuffle in the side for our game against Afghanistan."

Afghanistan made Ireland pay a heavy price for its sloppy fielding and uncharacteristic batting when it coasted to a comfortable 13-run victory.

Ireland dropped no less than half a dozen catches in the field, then slipped from 52-1 to 78-5 in its 140-run chase and finally failed to finish off the game when it required 16 runs off the last 11 balls with three wickets standing.

Afghanistan must be thankful to Mohammad Nabi, who first struck three fours and two sixes in a rapid 25-ball 43 not out that lifted his side to 139-8, and then picked up 2-25 to help Afghanistan dismiss Ireland for 126 with four balls to spare.

However, off-spinner Karim Sadiq was the bowler who broke the back of Ireland's batting when he took two wickets in three balls to finish with figures of 3-21. It was his three-over spell that brought his side back in the game after William Porterfield had looked to be taking the game away from it. Porterfield became one of Sadiq's scalps when he bowled round his legs after scoring 35 that came off 23 balls and included three fours and two sixes.

Porterfield was disappointed with the loss. He said: "It is disappointing if you can't chase seven runs an over and are bowled out in 20 overs. There is no doubt that we didn't play well but let's not forget that Afghanistan also played well.

"The equation for us is pretty simple and straight now. We need to win the remaining two matches to progress to the Super Four stage and get our ambitions back on track."

The Netherlands comfortably chased a 143-run target to beat Canada by six wickets.

Canada lost its star player John Davison in the first over of the match but recovered to reach 142-7 due to some useful contributions in the middle of the innings, especially from Geoff Barnett who hit a 20-ball 36 that included six fours.

In turn, a 56-run first wicket partnership between Alexei Kervezee (39) and Eric Szwarczynski (25) laid the platform on which the Netherlands built its victory. Bas Zuiderent finished as the top scorer with 43 not out.

The UAE produced the third upset of the day when it defeated Kenya by 15 runs. Chasing 166 for victory, Kenya finished at 150-5.

All rests on Wednesday's matches to see who will be going to the Caribbean in April.

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