Hong Kong, Namibia Maintain Winning Starts
Hong Kong beat Canada and Namibia beat Kenya to maintain their perfect starts to the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2014 in New Zealand.
Irfan Ahmed scored an unbeaten century to guide Hong Kong to a nine-wicket thrashing of Canada while Namibia had JJ Smit to thank with bat and ball for getting them home to a two-wicket victory over Kenya.
Hong Kong backed up their win over Scotland on the opening day with another impressive performance against Canada.
Batting first, Canada were bowled out for 171 after their innings never really got going. With Haseeb Amjad (3-42), Waqas Barkat (2-12) and Aizaz Khan (2-37) in the wickets, Canada were unable to build partnerships.
Trevin Bastiampillai (29), Nitish Kumar and Raza-ur-Rehman (both 28) all made starts but could not go on and they ended their innings with two overs unused.
Jeremy Gordon bowled Hong Kong opener Mark Wright for a four-ball duck but that was as good as it got for Canada as Irfan Ahmed (100 not out in 85 balls) and Jamie Atkinson (63 not out in 63 balls) put together an unbroken 166-run stand for the second wicket.
Irfan cracked 14 fours and two sixes while Atkinson hit nine fours and a six and Hong Kong reached their target in just 25.2 overs to move into second place in the table behind the United Arab Emirates on net run-rate.
Standings: United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong 4 points, Scotland 2, Nepal, Canada 0
The match between Kenya and Namibia went down to the wire but Namibia joined Papua New Guinea at the top of the table with their second win.
Batting first, Kenya lost three early wickets as Louis Klazinga (2-50) and JJ Smit (3-31) bowled well with the new ball.
They recovered thanks to Maurice Ouma (32), Steve Tikolo (47) and Rakep Patel (44) although progress was slow.
Hiren Varaiya added a quicker 33 towards the end as Kenya closed on 186 for eight with Christi Viljoen also taking two wickets.
Lameck Onyango then had Namibia openers Xander Pitchers (10) and Stephen Baard (15) caught behind by Ouma and Namibia needed Sarel Burger's 45 in 97 balls to get them back on track.
Kenya fought back, however, as Varaiya and Tikolo grabbed a brace of wickets apiece to reduce the Namibians to 144 for seven when Burger fell and then 177 for eight.
However, the final twist came from Smit, whose unbeaten 33 in 25 balls, including three fours and a six, saw Namibia home with seven balls to spare and left Kenya still searching for their first win.
Standings: Papua New Guinea, Namibia 4 points, Netherlands 2, Kenya, Uganda 0
Namibia all-rounder JJ Smit: "We put it all in from the start, the intensity was up, and in the fielding it showed. There were some amazing catches and great fielding from everyone, and we did our best."
Namibia captain Sarel Burger: "He’s (Smit) showing great composure, I think he’s bowling out of his boots at the moment and obviously kept it all together there at the end.
"Obviously in these types of games, the nerves get up. But I think that the guys kept their composure, and went well.
"The nice thing is there’s a couple of different guys doing the job out there, so we’re looking forward to everyone gelling together and then things will go quite well."
Kenya captain Rakep Patel: "I am very disappointed because that was our second match and we lost.
"We thought if we could have won that game we could have had chances to go to the Super Six stage. Now we have to win both the remaining games. It is more difficult.
"I thought we just gave so many chances. I thought the bowlers bowled well though, but the catches weren’t taken, so the pressure was all on us.
"The batting has been clicking well. If you see the conditions, it was a little bit difficult and we scored 180. I thought it was a defendable score but just that the catches – we just didn’t take them and it cost us."
Hong Kong batsman and centurion Irfan Ahmed: "I feel great, it was a good opportunity for me. It was a good wicket to bat on. The runs were coming easily as they were pitching the ball up and I just kept hitting.
"I took my time to start with, but once I was in I just kept playing my shots."
Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson: "I was happy to play second fiddle today. I had the best seat in the house to watch Irfan’s hundred – it was sensational.
"Obviously the lads are in a great mood after having two very good wins against two very good sides in Scotland and Canada so the lads have taken a lot of confidence out of these two games.
"After two good wins confidence in the team is high, but in cricket one bad day at the office can change all that.
"We’ve got two tough games coming up against Nepal and UAE, we just need to work on remaining consistent."
Canada skipper Jimmy Hansra: "We just didn’t perform with the bat or in the field. I think it was a 250 wicket, and we needed a really good performance to defend 171. But unfortunately we lacked discipline in the field.
"We must win our two remaining games. We have to get ourselves mentally ready and get the little things right before we come up against Nepal in our next game."
© Cricket World 2014