Ireland Take Kiwis to the Wire

New Zealand were forced to chase down a surprisingly high Irish target in order to progress to the Plate semi-finals, but a much-maligned batting lineup showed their greater experience and class to seal a three-wicket victory. Having been inserted by the Kiwis, Ireland proceeded to amass a huge 304 for nine in their fifty overs, with Middlesex’s Eoin Morgan playing an energetic captain’s innings at number three, stroking a rapid 124 off 126 balls and slamming three sixes. He received valuable support from Fintan McAllister (44) and Andrew Poynter (76), although only one other Irish batsman made double figures.

The New Zealand reply started poorly, with Niall McDarby, who took six for 50 against England earlier in the tournament, removing Todd Astle for just four. But the New Zealanders demonstrated their as yet latent talent, as the rest of the batting clubbed together to settle the tie in a well-paced run-chase. Nicholas Fitzgerald made an understated 38, while Andrew de Boorder held the innings together with a steady 87. The real fireworks, and some much needed acceleration, came from Tim Southee, who slaughtered the Irish attack, flailing 92 from 55 balls, with four fours and six breathtaking sixes. A cameo from Kieran Noema-Barnett, who struck 22 from 14 balls, was the finishing touch to a long-awaited Kiwi win which set up a semi-final against the USA.

P. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Ireland 304-9 (50)
Eoin Morgan 124, Andrew Poynter 76; Hamish Bennett 4-31
New Zealand 305-7 (49.1)
Andrew de Boorder 87, Tim Southee 92
New Zeland won by 3 wickets

USA captain Hemant Punoo was once again the key figure for his side in a well-fought two-wicket win over Namibia. Having chosen to bat, Namibia were sat in a comfortable position at 121 for two, with both Pieter Grove and Dawid Botha registering half-centuries, but, hampered by the bowling of Punoo who broke the partnership, struggled to 219 for eight. While most of the American batsmen made starts, only Punoo went on to play an instrumental role as he led the charge for victory with a 76-ball 64. Namibian opening seamer Floris Marx did his best to strangle to US hold on the game, producing five maidens in his figures of three for 25, but the North American minnows triumphed over their African counterparts with an over to spare.

Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo
Namibia 219-8 (50)
Pieter Grove 58, Dawid Botha 56; Dominic Audain 3-49
USA 220-8 (49)
Hemant Punoo 64; Floris Marx 3-25
USA won by 1 wicket

Once again Uganda’s batting was proved brittle, as Nepal cruised into the semi-finals with an assertive victory. Despite only setting a below-par total of 192, with Gayanendra Malla (64) and Basant Regmi (42*) the main contributors, the Ugandan batsmen, who were blown away for just 74 by Pakistan in the group stage, self-imploded again. At 56 without loss they appeared in control, but the inevitable demise left them wobbling at 65 for four, and Nepal had the game sewn up. Raj Shrestha constricted African progress, leaking just five runs off his eight overs, and Sashi Kesari finished with three for 15. But wicket-keeper Mahesh Chhetri was the undoubted star-of-the-show, taking advantage of some sloppy batting to make four stumpings and a catch.

P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo
Nepal 192-9 (50)
Gayanendra Malla 64; Raymond Otim 3-20
Uganda 132 all out (44.3)
Sashi Kesari 3-15
Nepal won by 60 runs

Having been unceremoniously dumped from the Super League into the less-appreciated pastures of the Plate competition, South African sprung back into life with a crushing win over Ireland. After being put in by Scotland, the Protea’s batting was at its ruthless best, and the take-no-prisoners attitude saw them amass the highest total of the tournament so far. Four batsmen made individual fifties, with Richard Levi thumping a 23-ball 51, and openers Jean Symes (63) and Pieter Daneel (59) getting the innings off to a rollicking start by totalling 134 for the first wicket. Captain Dean Elgar then took advantage off some energy-sapped and disheartened Scottish bowlers, of whom nine were eventually called upon, to close the innings at 337 for eight. Only Gordon Goudie, with 59, passed the next highest score of 22 from last man Tyler Buchan, in a disappointingly meek Scottish performance. The South Africans, who will play Nepal in the next phase, will be confident of victory, despite an ominous loss in 2004, when the unfancied Asian nation pulled off a shock victory.

Nondescripts CC, Colombo
South Africa 337-8 (50)
Jean Symes 63, Pieter Daneel 59, Richard Levi 51, Dean Elgar 86; Moneeb Iqbal 3-47
Scotland 152 all out (40.4)
Gordon Goudie 59; Jean Symes 3-38
South African won by 185 runs

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