Arjun Mutreja scored the first century of the tournament © Peter Della Penna
Arjun Mutreja‘s unbeaten 101 capped Singapore‘s dramatic seven-wicket win over USA on Friday. Mutreja shared in an unbroken 162-run fourth-wicket stand with captain Chetan Suryawanshi to carry Singapore to victory with 26 balls to spare. It was Singapore’s joint second-best partnership in the World Cricket League behind the 209 put on by Mutreja and Anish Paraam against Bermuda in 2014. Mutreja had scored a century then too.
Singapore had lost the toss and spent the first 16 overs watching USA captain Steven Taylor seize on the short boundaries at Lugogo Stadium. He raced to 50 off 37 balls and his te was sitting pretty on 100 for 3. the first 16 overs, reaching 100 for 3. But USA stuttered after Taylor’s departure for 69, adding only 137 in their last 31 overs before being bowled out.
USA were also upset at a series of umpiring decisions that went against them along the way, two in particular which had a key impact on the match. At 169 for 5, allrounder Timroy Allen was in the middle of a counterattack. He had struck three sixes in seven balls, but was given out lbw for 24 by Rockie D’Mello even though the ball seemed to be going well down the leg side.
Then, with USA nine down, Elmore Hutchinson began accelerating. He cleared the boundary three times in six balls and, while looking to keep strike, he took a single off the penultimate ball of the 46th over. No. 11 Ali Khan came on strike and he was ruled lbw by Viswanadan Kalidas despite as massive inside edge.
Singapore’s task was relatively straightforward. They did stutter, as a score of 31 for 2 in the eighth over suggests, but they recovered handsomely, helped by tack of scoreboard pressure. The closest USA came to separating Mutreja and Suryawanshi was when the score was 117 for 3. Mutreja, on 29, pulled left-arm spinner Timil Patel to mid-on and Nosthush Kenjige, diving forward got both hands to the ball but it popped out when his elbows hit the turf.
Mutreja was methodical. Despite coming to the crease in the eighth over, he raised his fifty only in the 37th. He motored from there on though, taking only 33 balls to double up and record the first century of the tournament. He could play at his own pace with Suryawanshi at the other end keeping up with the required rate during his innings of 74 off 75 balls.
The race for promotion burst open with Canada beaten by the previously winless Malaysia at Entebbe. Despite coming into the match with two victories, Canada were bowled out for 141, failing to adapt on their first match at the tournament’s largest ground. Malaysia’s spinners took six of the 10 wickets, with the biggest blow delivered by left-armer Virandeep Singh. He toppled Rizwan Cheema, the leading run-scorer at the start of the game, for 6. A small target was just what Malaysia captain Ahmad Faiz needed to recover from being run out for 2 in his last game. His unbeaten 49 on Friday included the winning boundary as well.
Oman defeated Uganda by six wickets at Kyambogo Oval to keep pace with Canada and Singapore in a three-way tie for first.
Uganda won the toss and elected to bat, but only managed 144 in 46.3 overs with only three batsmen making double-digit scores; Roger Mukasa made 57. Left-arm seamer Bilal Khan took 3 for 28 while Zeeshan Maqsood‘s part-time spin proved handy on a turning track, finishing with 3 for 34 in 10 overs. Aqib Ilyas cleaned up the tail with 2 for 5 in 7.3 overs.
Playing his first game of the tournament, Jatinder Singh top-scored with 58 off 71 balls, including 11 boundaries, before he was run-out with 36 needed to win. Naseem Khushi and Ajay Lalcheta knocked off the remaining runs with 27 overs to spare to boost Oman’s net run rate.
Singapore and Oman will meet on Saturday at Entebbe with the winner likely to take one of the two available promotion berths. USA take on Canada in a must-win match to keep their promotion hopes alive. And Uganda face Malaysia at Lugogo with the loser almost certain to be relegated, and the winner hopeful of an outside chance at promotion.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo