Italy Set Up Grandstand Finish To WCL Division Four

Italy set up an exciting finish to the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4 after a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Tanzania. If Italy wins its final match against Afghanistan tomorrow and Hong Kong defeats Jersey, both sides will be guaranteed promotion to Division 3 as they have a superior net run-rate to Afghanistan who remains unbeaten at this event to date. The playing conditions for the event stipulate that if teams are tied on points and also have an equal number of wins in the round-robin stage, the team with the higher net run-rate will be placed in the higher position in the table. If Italy and Hong Kong were to win tomorrow, the top three teams at this event would all be tied on eight points and net run-rate would therefore come into play, meaning Afghanistan’s dream of qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 would be over. Italy’s Andy Northcote must surely now be in contention for the player of the tournament award after being named man of the match for the second time in this competition for his brilliant 71 not out. He is clearly ready for the challenge. “I can’t tell you how happy I am today,” said Northcote. “The most important thing is we have one game to go and we have to win it. It will be tough tomorrow but we can do it.” The Italy coach and captain Joe Scuderi believes that tomorrow’s match-up will be an exciting game and admitted he has been impressed by Afghanistan’s side. “Afghanistan has got a fairly solid all-round team. They have some good batters, some quick bowlers and a couple of good spinners as well. We’ll need to be firing on all cylinders,” said Scuderi. “We played against them in a warm-up game when we lost by three runs but we’ve now won three in a row. “It’s basically a grand final – I know they talk of the final being on Saturday but for us the final is tomorrow.” Before today’s game, many predicted a close match-up between Italy and Tanzania, who only narrowly lost to Afghanistan earlier this week. But after deciding to bat after winning the toss, only opener Rishen Patel (46) showed any true resistance with the bat for the home team, as a series of poor shots left Tanzania 135 all out. Off-spinner Northcote was the pick of the bowlers for Italy with figures of 2-19 off 10 overs. And it was Northcote (71 not out), who scored the only century of the tournament so far against Fiji earlier this week, who was the key player with the bat as he added an unbroken stand of 96 with his brother Nick (52 not out). In Friday’s group matches, Italy will play Afghanistan (at Leaders Club), Hong Kong take on Jersey (at Anadil Burhani), while Fiji will play Tanzania (at University). Italy beat Tanzania by nine wickets at Anadil Burhani Tanzania 135 all out, 45.3 overs (Rishen Patel 46) Italy 136-1, 36.1 overs (Andy Northcote 71 not out, Nick Northcote 52 not out) © ICC