Great individual performances were the story on day two of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 at the Garden Ovals in Samoa on a rain affected day that was dominated by the East Asia-Pacific sides.
In group A, a brilliant all-round performance from Samoan captain Ben Mailata helped his side to their first victory in an ICC global event with a comfortable five wicket win over Norway.
In the other Group A match Vanuatu came from behind to triumph over Ghana and claim top spot in their group.
In group B, 81 runs from Abdul Rehman guided Belgium to a convincing win over Suriname and 91 from Alex Patmore secured a 60 run victory for Japan.
Norway won the toss and elected to bat against the hosts Samoa in a match that both sides were desperate to win to keep alive their semifinal ambitions.
Samoa’s opening bowling combination of Tiafala Alatasi and Faasao Mulivai immediately applied pressure to the Norwegian side in the greasy conditions taking two early wickets.
Norway fought back hard when their skipper Muhammad Shahbaz Butt came to the crease and smashed three glorious cover drives to the fence.
However when he was trapped in front for 18 off the bowling of Alatasi, Samoa had the upper hand with the score 3-40 when rain delayed play.
When play resumed Norway put the foot down in a match reduced to 45 overs with a handy 63 run partnership between Zeeshan Siddiqui and Ehtsham Ul Haq. The partnership came off just 82 balls and included seven boundaries.
Samoa caught a break when a mix-up in the middle saw Ul Haq run out for 37. Ul Haq’s dismissal triggered a mini collapse for Norway as they lost two more quick wickets to find themselves 6-120.
A late innings 24 from Waseem Gill kept Norway on track to score 200 until Ben Mailata cleaned up the tail with four wickets in a tidy spell of off spin bowling.
Chasing a reduced total of 186 Samoa lost Geoff Clarke for just two stumped off the bowling of Norwegian skipper Muhammad Shahbaz Butt.
However the ever reliable pair of Ben Mailata and Sean Cotter came together for a useful 65 run partnership before Cotter was caught at covers for 29 off the bowling of Babar Shahzad.
Mailata was given a couple of lifelines when he was dropped twice on the fence early in his innings. He then went on to make Norway pay smashing eight boundaries and three 6s on his way to a match winning 79 not out.
Norway fought back hard in the middle stages of the innings taking three for 13 however Mulivai and Mailata got the job done launching several balls into vocal home crowd as they passed the total in 30.4 overs.
“It was a huge relief getting this win today as we were obviously very disappointed with our performance on Saturday,” said man of the match Ben Mailata who made 79 and took four wickets. “But credit to the players we have remained positive and got the result today.”
On Garden Oval 1 Ghana won the toss and elected to bat against an in form Vanuatu side.
With both sides victorious on day one the winner of this match would have one foot in the door for a birth in the semifinals.
As they did against Samoa, Ghana came out looking to score quick runs and targeted the bowling of Vanuatu skipper Andrew Mansale who opened from the town end with his off-spin.
Julius Mensah did most of the damage with 18 off 13 deliveries before he was dismissed caught behind off the bowling of Patrick Matautaava.
Matautaava who took six wickets on Monday was causing all sorts of trouble for Ghana taking 2-5 off his first five overs before rain delayed play with the score 3-45 off 9.2 overs.
When play resumed the match was reduced to 45 overs and Ghana continued to look for quick runs.
Samson Awiah looked in fine touch as he belted 7 fours and a six on his way to an impressive 41 before he was run out thanks to some tidy work by Simpson Obed.
For the remainder of the innings every time Ghana threatened to build a big partnership, poor running between the wickets or a wayward stroke would bring them unstuck as Vanuatu fought back to restrict them to all out for 197 off 44.2 overs.
Patrick Matautaava was again outstanding with the ball taking three for 23 whilst for Ghana Obed Harvey scored a valuable half century.
Vanuatu kept wickets in hand early however failed to score much above two an over for the first 17 overs to be 0-38.
When Smith was dismissed for nine LBW off the bowling of Vincent Ateak the required run rate had blown out to nearly six an over.
The Ghanaian spin attack kept the pressure on throughout the middle overs of the innings frustrating the Vanuatu players into playing some risky shots.
However with the required run rate continuing to climb, Vanuatu captain Andrew Mansale remained composed and played a crucial innings of 34 to keep his side in contention.
After Mansale’s dismissal Vanuatu’s youngest players Matautaava and 16 year old Nalin Nipiko belted seven 6s between them to cap off an amazing come from behind victory for the Pacific side.
Vanuatu passed Ghana’s total with 17 balls remaining to put themselves a game clear on top of Group A.
Nipiko finished with 58 not out and Matautaava 24 whilst for Ghana Kofi Bagabina was the best of the bowlers with two wickets.
“We’ve got a lot of depth in our team so we were always confident we could do enough to win,” said Vanuatu coach Peter Wooden. “It took a few special performances from some of our young guys like 16 year old Nalin Nipiko as well as great leadership from our captain (Mansale) to get us over the line.”