Hong Kong edge ahead in three-way race

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Hong Kong's win over Kenya saw them pass Uganda and Jersey to claim the top spot by a single point (File Photo)
Hong Kong's win over Kenya saw them pass Uganda and Jersey to claim the top spot by a single point (File Photo) © Getty

Hong Kong took a narrow lead in the three-way race at the top of the CWC Challenge B table with a comfortable win over Kenya in their opening match at Granville Cricket Ground in Jersey, while the hosts bested previous frontrunners Uganda by five wickets to keep within a point of Hong Kong at the top. At the other end of the table, Italy sent Bermuda to another heavy defeat, thus pushing Kenya into fifth place and going clear of the relegation zone.

Harrison Carlyon's 115-ball 96 from the top of the order set up what proved a comfortable chase for Jersey as the hosts overhauled Uganda's total of 266-6 with five wickets and 14 balls to spare in a back-and-forth affair at Farmer's Field. Uganda had looked in control of the game early, Arnold Otwani built partnerships with Simon Sseazi and Ronak Patel to take them to 121-1 by the 23rd over before Patel was run out by young Asa Tribe, who followed up having Otwani caught for 56 eight balls later. New skipper Deusdedit Muhumuza reclaimed the momentum with an accelerating 86 off 80 however, and with runs on the board at the break, Uganda looked set to extend their lead.

Carlyon put the hosts back in charge however, despite Riazat Shah striking twice early to remove Nick Greenwood and Josh Lawrenson. Joined by Tribe with Jersey in trouble at 37-2, the pair added 130 for the third wicket before Carlyon was bowled by Bilal Hassun on the final ball of the 34th over. Tribe lost another partner soon after as Jonty Jenner went for just 2, and would himself fall for 68 with 51 still needed from the final 7 overs. His was the last wicket to fall however, Dom Blampied and Julius Sumerauer's half-century stand taking the hosts home in quick time, the latter finishing the match with his fourth six pulling Hassum over the square rope with 14 balls remaining.

Uganda's defeat saw them sink to third place on the table, and level with the hosts on 16 points but with Jersey well ahead on net run rate. Hong Kong's win over Kenya saw them pass both to claim the top spot by a single point however. Kenya looked well in the game at the break, taking regular wickets to restrict Hong Kong well through much of the first innings. Babar Hayat's 38 off 46 from number three was the top score of the innings, but Scott McKenchnie's rearguard 37 with the tail and a run-a-ball 24-run cameo from number 10 Ayush Shukla lifted them to 213-9, which proved plenty in the end.

Kenay stumbled out of the gate to 4-43 after 13, but a 77-run stand between captain Rakep Patel and the veteran Collins Obuya dragged Kenya back into contention. When Patel fell to Kinchit Shah in the 30th over for 54 the tide turned again however, as together with Ehsan Khan Shah, he rapidly dismantled the lower order and tail. Obuya batted on doggedly for a 73-ball 38, but Khan and Shah gradually choked out the chase, finishing with figures of 3-20 and 4-24 respectively as Kenya were bowled out for 162.

On the opening day, Italy made light work of the still-winless Bermuda, Anthony Mosca steadied the innings after a couple of early wickets had the Bermudians briefly in the ascendant with the score at 41-2 after 7. Legspinner Cameron Jeffers deprived Mosca of the company of his brother Justin soon after, holding a sharp return catch to send the opener back for 41, and claim the first of his three wickets, but Mosca found support in the middle order. Together with Gian-Piero Meade he added precisely 100 runs for the fifth wicket, and brought up his personal century with three overs to go, finally caught off Kamau Leverock for 104 off 117.

Italy were bowled out four balls later with 11 balls unused, but chasing an improbable 302 to win was never a realistic hope for Bermuda. The loss of Leverock 12 balls into the chase, caught off Harry Manenti for 7, essentially put the result beyond doubt. A rapid collapse ensued, the Italian attack shared the wickets around as Bermuda subsided to 67-7, only a rearguard unbeaten 29 from number nine Zeko Burgess sparing them another two-figure total.

Bermuda were arithmetically out of contention before this leg of the league even began, and with only four matches remaining, they are now all but assured of finishing in the bottom two, and thus at risk of relegation. The second spot in the danger zone looks likely to go to Italy or Kenya, whose meeting on Monday may well prove decisive. Kenya have a match against neighbours Uganda the day before however, while Bermuda take on Hong Kong and Jersey in their next two matches. For the three sides at the top of the table, the top spot will mean a place at the Qualifier Play-off next year and a chance at promotion to CWC League 2 along with ODI status, while the bottom two finishers risk being knocked off the 50-over ladder entirely at the CWC Challenge Play-Off.



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