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16th-20th May: 1st Test, Lord's
19th May: 2nd ODI, Edinburgh
Ghana and Vanuatu have both secured promotion to Division 7 and a place in Saturday’s final of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 tournament after comfortable semi-final victories at the Garden Ovals in Samoa today.
Ghana overcame some good early pressure from Japan to win by 62 runs, while Vanuatu recovered from the loss of early wickets to cruise home by 83 runs.
In the other group cross over matches, Samoa easily accounted for Bhutan and Norway defeated Suriname in a high standard match by five wickets.
Ghana won the toss and elected to bat on Garden Oval 2 against Japan.
Yet to bat out the 50 overs despite a successful tournament to date, Ghana appeared focused on keeping wickets in hand early with some sensible batting.
James Vifah and Julius Mensah showed class in their 43 run partnership for the third wicket working tirelessly to see out some tidy bowling Takuro Hagihara.
Just when Ghana looked on top off-spinner Naotsune Miyaji was thrown the ball and got instant results taking the wickets of both Mensah and Vifah.
Miyaji bowled beautifully deceiving the batsman on a number of occasions as he built significant pressure with a series of dot balls.
Japan opted for spin from both ends and 16 year old leg-spinner Makoto Taniyama chipped in with a wicket removing the dangerous Samson Awiah when he popped one up to cover.
With Ghana 110-4 off 27 overs and the match evenly poised one team needed to make a statement.
Ghana looked the most likely as Isaac Aboagye and Moses Anafie launched a number of balls over mid-wicket for six.
With more than 200 on the cards Daniel Mee claimed two wickets in an over and Japan restricted Ghana to a getable 198 all out off 48.1 overs.
Mee ended with figures of 3-21 while for Ghana Awiah top scored with 28.
In reply Japan lost the three key wickets of Shearer, Mee and Patmore without either player really impacting the scoreboard to fall to 50-4.
Obed Harvey triggered the collapse finding the edge of Patmore’s bat to claim his first wicket, then deceiving Naoki Miyaji in flight to clean up his stumps.
From there Japan never recovered eventually finishing all out for 136.
For Ghana Harvey was the best of the bowlers with 2-18 and for Japan captain Tatsuro Chino tried hard with 24.
“I just feel so great (about qualifying for Division 7), I feel like the happiest person on earth,” said Ghana captain Peter Ananya. “I am so proud of my team they are such hard working guys and I just can’t thank them enough.”
Vanuatu won the toss and elected to bat on Garden Oval 2 against Belgium and despite a solid first few overs quickly found themselves in trouble.
Belgian strike bowler Faisal Khaliq got his side on top scattering the stumps of Lenica Natapei before also removing his opening partner Damien Smith.
Vanuatu captain Andrew Mansale looked to give his side back the ascendency smashing two huge sixes before he two had his stumps knocked over this time via an inside edge off the bowling of Abdul Rehman.
Needing to consolidate with the score 57-4, Nalin Nipiko and Simpson Obed set about forming a partnership for Vanuatu built around maintaining wickets in hand.
The pair steadied the ship with a 44 run partnership off 87 deliveries before Belgian captain Andre Wagener dismissed the in form Nipiko for 37.
Obed then stepped it up a notch finding the fence at will before he was run out for 27 and Belgium had their tails up with the score 126-6.
From that point on Vanuatu launched a tremendous recovery lead by yesterday’s match winner Trevor Langer and opening bowler Patrick Matautaava.
The pair put on 75 runs in just 54 balls in a match winning partnership.
When Langa was dismissed for 28 and Matautaava for 48 the rest of the Vanuatu tail batted out the remaining overs to end the innings 227-9.
For Belgium Wagener finished with his best figures of the tournament taking four wickets for 66.
In reply an economical opening spell from Matautaava that saw him concede only seven runs in five overs put immediate pressure on a Belgian side.
Nirvam Shah put together a patient 31 before being trapped LBW off the bowling of Jelany Chilia when looking for quick runs.
When the run rate blew out to more than eight runs an over wickets began to tumble for Belgium as they made a desperate last ditched attempted to make the final.
Despite a brave run chase the enthusiasm in the field from the Pacific side proved too much to overcome and Belgium finished all out for 144 in 44.1 overs.
“I am just so proud of my boys, with everything we have been through and the work we have done we deserve to be there (Division 7),” said Vanuatu captain Andrew Mansale. “We are happy that we are now promoted to division seven but we still want what we came for and that is first place.”
Vanuatu will now meet Ghana in the final on Saturday and Belgium will play off for third against Japan.