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T20 Qualifier wide open as Netherlands, Canada stumble

Both groups in the T20 World Cup Qualifier were thrown wide open on Thursday (October 24) as Canada and the Netherlands slipped to their first defeats of the tournament. The Dutch were turned over by a disciplined Papua New Guinea side while Canada sank to a 33-run defeat against Hong Kong. Hosts UAE also completed a comfortable win over Nigeria.
Sese Bau was the standout performer for PNG in what was an impressive team performance, with a wicket and a run-out helping restrict the Dutch to just 126 for 7 from their 20 overs, before hitting an unbeaten 34 off 26 to see them home with an over to spare. The Netherlands had racked up three wins in the tournament without ever really looking convincing with the bat, and it finally cost them on the day as they failed to back up their bowlers in the field. PNG were able to exert pressure in both innings through sharp fielding and aggressive running between the wickets. The Dutch again found themselves in early trouble as they lost their top three in the first six overs with Bau holding a simple return catch to dismiss Ben Cooper on the final ball of the powerplay, before swooping in from point two overs later to catch Ryan ten Doeschate half-way down the track. The Dutch struggled through the middle overs as skipper Pieter Seelaar tried to hold the innings together. But it wasn't until Timm van der Gugten arrived at the crease in the 15th over that they mustered any momentum. Van der Gugten hit three sixes in a 21-ball unbeaten 40 to get the Dutch up to 126 by the close, but it would prove in vain.
Tony Ura and Asad Vala rode their luck early, with Ura surviving two close LBW shouts to the mounting frustration of Paul van Meekeren, as well as being shelled at deep square leg off the same bowler. It wasn't the last error in the field as Ura and Vala pinched singles and turned ones into twos shuttling rapidly between the wickets, adding 47 for the first wicket before Ura became the first of van der Gugten's two victims. The wicket prompted something of a fightback as Lega Siaka was pinned in front by Roelof van der Merwe first ball and Vala was caught behind off van der Gugten with 52 still needed, but Bau kept his nerve even as the Dutch lost theirs. Back-to-back howlers fittingly closed the chase as Bau was spilled over the rope to level the scores before a misfield gave away a needless single on the final ball of the 19th over to see the Barramundi's pip the Dutch to pole position in Group A on net run rate with two games to go.
Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, Nigeria's winless run continued as the UAE left their troubles at the rope to restrict them to 111-3, before Zawar Farid, on tournament debut, led the charge from the top of the order as the UAE chase down the total inside 13 overs. Nigeria again stumbled out of the gate after being inserted by the hosts. Sulaimon Runsewe chipped a return catch back to Junaid Siddique in the second over and Daniel Ajeku was run out in the next. With the run rate at a crawl, they had just 22 on the board when they lost their third, when Adeleke Oyede was caught off skipper Ahmed Raza after a painstaking 4 off 18. Chimezie Onwuzulike and Sesan Adedeji combined for the fourth wicket to put on Nigeria's best partnership of the tour - an unbroken 89-run stand to see them to triple figures. Adedeji also brought up Nigeria's first-ever individual T20I fifty in the 19th over, but with the scoring rate barely over a run a ball throughout the partnership, it was never likely to worry the Emiratis. Farid made the most of his opportunity at the top of the order, playing only his third official match for the UAE, striking a brisk 55 off 35 before falling to Daniel Gim on the last ball of the 9th over. Wickets would continue to fall as the UAE looked to force the pace, but the outcome was never in doubt as Mohammad Usman's 20 off 11 saw them cross the finish with 7.3 overs to spare.
In the afternoon game at the Tolerance Oval, Hong Kong's turnaround in form continued as they broke Canada's perfect run in the tournament with a comfortable 33-run victory. A masterful innings from Kinchit Shah at four for Hong Kong proved the difference between the two sides in the end, seeing his side to 150-7 from 20 overs - a total that Canada never looked like chasing. Coming in with his side in trouble at 24 for 3, with skipper Aizaz Khan having just departed for a two-ball duck and Ahsan Abbasi run out two balls later, Shah first steadied the innings, adding 39 for the next wicket with Waqas Barkat and took Hong Kong to 63 for 4 in the 11th. He then accelerated through the second-half of the innings with support from Haroon Arshad and Scott McKechnie, finishing unbeaten on 59 from 48. Canada's reply seemed to lack any sense of urgency almost throughout, never recovering from the early wickets of Rodrigo Thomas and the in-form Navneet Dhaliwal. Hong Kong's young seam attack were on top of the Canadians from the start as 17-year-old Nasrulla claimed three wickets for just 25 from his four, and Arshad conceded just 4 runs in two overs, setting the tone with the wickets of the Canadian skipper. When Shah ran out the big-hitting Rizwan Cheema with a sharp piece of work at backward point in the 17th with 63 still needed, the game was effectively done. Despite a defiant flurry from young Abraash Khan at the death, Canada fell 33 runs short.
In the evening match, the first at the Dubai Stadium, Bermuda extended their winless streak as the went down to Scotland, though at stages in both innings they showed some signs of the danger they could potentially have posed in the tournament. For the first four overs, Bermuda had Scotland on the ropes. Openers George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer struggled to score as Bermuda kept pace off the ball. The first three overs went for just 11 runs and the fourth brought the wicket of Coetzer, miscueing Kamau Leverock to Okera Bascome in the deep. From then on the traffic was largely one way. However, Bermuda seemed to lose focus after being denied a couple of more-than-decent LBW shouts, catching chances going begging from thereon whilst Munsey and No. 3 Ollie Hairs began to connect. Hairs's. dismissal in the 8th over for an entertaining 23 off 11 did little to help the Bermudans, bringing Calum MacLeod to the crease, who looked thankful to be out of the sun and duly put on a show under the lights. MacLeod deployed his trademark array of sweep variants to strike a career-best 74 off 37. Richie Berrington got on the fun after Munsey had fallen for a well-earned half-century. The pair took Scotland past the 200-mark by the close, and Berrington ended unbeaten on 34 off 19 while Macleod perished on the final ball of the innings looking to scoop a wide yorker from Leverock over fine leg and failing to clear him. The 205-run target was always likely to prove beyond Bermuda, and indeed they fell 47 runs short in the end, but there were nonetheless some nervous Scottish faces whilst Delray Rawlins was at the crease. Rawlins and Kamau Leverock finally lived up to their pre-tournament billing, albeit in a losing cause. The two early wickets that brought Rawlins to the crease in the powerplay proved to be something of a blessing for Bermuda, as the left-hander launched into the Scottish attack. Striking at more than two runs a ball, Rawlins kept Bermuda on target even as wickets fell at the other end, taking them to triple figures before falling victim to an excellent sliding catch from Safyaan Sharif on the midwicket boundary off the bowling of Mark Watt on the first ball of the 12th over. Leverock looked to continue where Rawlins left off, but saw too little of the strike to really threaten the target even as wickets continued to come. Leverock clubbed 43 off 24 to see Bermuda to their best total of the tour, but watched too many dots from the non-striker's end to have a chance at glory, finishing unbeaten as Bermuda ended on 158-8.

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