Under overcast skies in Dubai, Namibia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uganda all secured victories on the third day of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (WCL Div. 2) tournament currently being played in the United Arab Emirates.
After heavy showers over night, each of the three teams that won the toss at its respective grounds elected to bat first, in the cases of Uganda and UAE it proved to be a worthwhile decision but not so for Papua New Guinea (PNG).
At the Global Cricket Academy, PNG put Namibia into field a move that would prove futile for the qualifiers. Opening batsmen Tony Ura was dismissed for duck and Jack Vare left the crease with a mere four runs to his name. PNG's attempts to keep a hold on the game loosened swiftly at the hands of Namibia's able fielders, with six men dismissed after being caught by the African side.
There were few performances of note today from PNG, Kila Pala's 22 and Jason Kila's 23 being the two batsmen to make any runs for the side, while Namibia's bowling was in fine form. Opening the bowling, Louis Klazinga snapped up 2-29 but the best figures of the day came from the 23-year-old Namibian spinner Louis van der Westhuizen who took an impressive three wickets for just four runs.
PNG struggled to fight back against Namibia's strong bowling and the team were bowled out for 92 in just 23.2 overs. With a small target to chase, Namibia knocked off the runs before the scheduled lunch-break.
After a rocky start, with its opening batsman bowled out after just one run and Andries Burger departing also for a single, it took Namibia a while to get into its stride and it was once again captain Craig Williams who stepped up to the challenge smashing his way to 73 runs in 35 balls to help secure the side victory by eight wickets.
PNG's fast bowler Raymond Haoda walked away with the two wickets of the day but it was little compensation for the side.
PNG head coach Greg Campbell said of today's loss: "I think today they showed us how much more experienced they are than us, we'll go home tonight and work on what went wrong and try to come back bigger and better than before. We will work on this as a team, the boys have seen this as a learning curve and we'll improve from here."
In comparison, Namibia coach Johan Rudolph was delighted with his side's performance to secure the team's second win of the tournament.
"We always like to bat first but it was probably the best thing today for us to lose the toss as it meant our bowlers could do a really good job. We know PNG are a tough opposition, they play aggressively and well, sometimes chasing a small target can be just as tough as chasing a big score.
"I'm pleased with the way Craig performed today, he is always an aggressive batsman and plays his own game out there. He had a great time with the bat during the I-Shield and has been the second highest-scoring batsman in the South African amateur league we play in - so his performance today was no surprise," he said.
With two wins already under its belt the UAE were in good condition this morning when it elected to bat against Hong Kong. Opening batsman Amjad Ali smashed twelve boundaries en route to his total of 69, before being dismissed by Hong Kong captain Najeeb Amar.
Meanwhile, Saqib Ali made 68 but none of the other batsmen managed to add a decent score to the board but the UAE toiled to finish up 227-9 at the end of its 50 overs.
A strong bowling line-up failed to put a stop to UAE's scoring despite valiant efforts by Najeeb who claimed 4-33 while Hong Kong's wicketkeeper Waqas Barkat has a good day behind the stumps claiming five catches.
In reply, Hong Kong fought out to reach the target but the qualifiers fell short of the total, despite another strong performance from the 16-year-old Mark Chapman who finished the day with 81 runs to his name.
The UAE's Shadeep Silva had a strong day with the ball, walking away with 4-17 at the GCA 1 ground, with the 32-year-old dismissing all three of the top order batsmen in the Hong Kong line-up.
The appearance of Chapman steadied the Hong Kong batting, with a spirited innings by the 16 year old who hit seven boundaries and two sixes amongst his innings to add to Hong Kong's total. But it was the end of the batting partnership between Chapman and Irfan Ahmed that cost Hong Kong as it began to slip further behind in its run chase.
In the final overs of the match, there was a glimmer of hope for Hong Kong to make the target, but the UAE's bowling attack was relentless and the dismissal or Irfan's brother Nadeem, saw the end of the side's innings and UAE securing its third win of the tournament.
Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said: "Today we didn't have one of the top six batsmen in the final overs of the game. Some crucial decision making in regards to running between wickets, coupled with losing wickets at the start of the innings meant we threw it at the end.
"Losing Mark was a blow to the game, however I'd say losing Irfan was more detrimental. His LBW hurt us, keeping him would have put us in a position to go about five-an-over without risk. We bowled and fielded very well today, much better than yesterday ?so it took a lot of pressure off our spinners.
"In our match tomorrow against PNG it's a must win for us. It's the final for us, there's no doubt, we need to learn from today, chasing is never easy - so we need to work harder at chasing better, the boys need to make sure we back one another. We've been down before but we've comeback, and we'll come back again."
After its loss on Sunday at the hands of Namibia, today saw a determined Uganda winning the toss and electing to bat at the DSC Stadium against Bermuda. Roger Mukasa opened the batting by adding 33 runs to the board and each of the men that followed Mukasa contributed runs to the total, with no one making less than 22.
Lawrence Sematimba's batting skills were on display today, the 28-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman hitting 66 runs and anchoring the side's innings, Benjamin Musoke also added valuable runs before being dismissed by Chris Foggo.
Despite allowing Uganda to make a healthy total, Bermuda's fielding was on target when it needed to be with Lionel Cann while captain David Hemp ran out Uganda stand-in captain Davis Arinaitwe.
When it came to chasing down the runs Bermuda fell short of the target after some poor running between the wickets led to run outs, coupled with key batsman Jason Anderson being dismissed for 38 off the bowling of Mukasa. Cann contributed once again, this time the veteran batsman adding a much needed 44 runs to the total.
Cann's total proved too little too late with the lower order making just 46 runs to accompany Anderson's total leaving Uganda to celebrate its first victory of the tournament.
Man of the match Sematimba said: "I think coming into this game we were on the back-foot and we needed this win so I'm pleased to have contributed to get us up to a good total today that ultimately Bermuda could not chase down.
"I knew when I came into bat I needed to stay in for the duration of the innings and that's exactly what I did. We knew by setting them a target of 250 they would really struggle to chase it down. I thought Roger had a particularly good day with the ball and we just worked well as a team to beat Bermuda."
Tomorrow's fixtures will see Hong Kong take on fellow Division 2 qualifiers PNG at the DSC Stadium, UAE will play Uganda at GCA 1 and Namibia will play Bermuda at GCA 2.
Score summaries (Day Three):
At DSC: Uganda 249-7, 50 overs (Sematimba 66 not out, Musoke 55; Stovell 2-42)
Bermuda 175 all out, 47 overs (Anderson 38, Cann 44; Mukasa 4-21)
Uganda won by 74 runs
At GCA 1: UAE 227-9, 50 overs (Amjad 69, Saqib 68; Najeeb 4-33)
Hong Kong 208 all out, 47.4 overs (Chapman 81, Irfan 36; Silva 4-14)
UAE won by 19 runs
At GCA 2: PNG 92 all out, 23.2 overs (Kila 23; Van der Westhuizen 3-4, Snyman 2-17, Klazinga 2-29)
Namibia 95-2, 15.2 overs (Williams 73 not out; Haoda 2-33)
Namibia won by eight wickets
The most up to date points table can viewed at http://www.icc-cricket.com/events_and_awards/wcl/table.php