Challenge League Day 3: Damgaard and Dhaliwal lead Denmark and Canada to dominant wins

Denmark (285/8 in 50 overs; Shah 85, Samson 2/38) defeated Vanuatu (158 in 38.3 overs; Mansale 66*, Damgaard 4/26) by 127 runs.

Singapore (188 in 49.2 overs; Paraam 57, Gordon 2/40) lost to Canada (190/4 in 41.2 overs; Dhaliwal 100*, Paraam 2/23) by 6 wickets with 52 balls remaining.

Vanuatu were blown away by an all-round Nicolaj Damgaard special today, as Denmark pulled ahead of them on the Challenge League points table at Maple Leaf Cricket Club’s East ground. Over on the West ground, Canadian skipper Navneet Dhaliwal smashed his third international century to sink their nearest rivals on the league table, Singapore.

After being sent in to bat by Vanuatu, who celebrated the nation’s 42nd year of independence with a rendition of the national anthem, Denmark’s innings got off to an explosive start thanks to a 121-run stand between Damgaard (69 off 56) and skipper Hamid Shah (85 off 128). Damgaard made the early running as he took full advantage of a let-off from seamer Apo Stephen – who trapped him plumb LBW off a no-ball. The tall left-hander tucked into anything pitched up, bombing three huge sixes down the ground, as well as slapping it fruitfully through the arc between midwicket and mid-off. When Damgaard holed out to deep midwicket off Williamsing Nalisa’s legspin however, the match took a turn as Vanuatu tightened up and the Danes’ momentum faded. 

The Ni-Vanuatu took 4/120 between overs 16 and 40. Josh Rasu bowled unchanged for 10 overs of tidy offspin (0/42), while Nalisa (1/46) rolled through his quota at a hustling pace. Apo Stephen returned for a second spell and united with Andrew Mansale for a brace of wickets – Zameer Khan (28 off 45) and Surya Anand both popped chances to cover and the captain made no mistake in snaffling them. Rival Samson, who debuted in the previous match but didn’t bowl, claimed his first international wicket to remove Shah in a beautiful over of legspin – Shah played and missed twice outside off (once having a loud shout for caught behind turned down), then tried swatting round the corner and was caught by Nipiko at short backward square. 

Denmark were able to accelerate at the back end of the innings though, with Oliver Hald (37* off 24) and Shangeev Thanikaithasan (14 off 9) taking advantage of the inexperienced bowlers with regular skipper and death bowler Patrick Matautaava still awaiting a Canadian visa. Hald slog-swept Obed Yosef for a pair of mighty blows far over the rope, while Shangeev utilised the pace of Nipiko effectively as he hooked around the corner, and Denmark’s late burst took them to a challenging total.

In response, Vanuatu were initially watchful as Nipiko (16 off 27) and Rasu (12 off 31) defended stoutly. They couldn’t see off the new ball, however, with left-arm seamer Hald dislodging both as they lofted straight and into the covers for easy catches. Damgaard then backed up his strong batting performance with a match-turning spell of 4/26. He twice took two wickets in two balls, first in the 13th over, then in the 17th. In the 13th, Junior Kaltapau chopped on attempting to cut a ball that wasn’t short enough and Ala Viraliliu was trapped LBW by the arm ball. Then in the 17th he set up Jarryd Allan with a series of flat deliveries that drew an expansive drive when Damgaard tossed it up. Allan took the bait and edged through to backward point. Ronald Tari went next ball, yorked by an arm ball, and Vanuatu were effectively out of the running at 52/6. Skipper Andrew Mansale resisted with 66* (88), biffing three sixes down the ground, and Apo Stephen (24 off 13) had some fun slogging in the same direction, but Vanuatu were finally bowled out 127 runs adrift of the target.

Meanwhile on the West ground, Canada overcame an early wobble to complete an ultimately comfortable chase thanks to skipper Navneet Dhaliwal’s third international century – after Canada’s flotilla of finger spinners set up a manageable target.

After winning the toss, Dhaliwal opted to bowl first, and was rewarded early as seamer Ammar Khalid struck in the first over with the in-form Surendran Chandramohan edging behind as he prodded at a defensive shot. His opening partner Rohan Rangarajan (49 off 78) knuckled down, and after Rezza Gaznavi fell over during a run to be unfortunately sent back to the team tent, Anish Paraam (57 off 92) joined him for a dour 63-run partnership. The finger spinners left-arm Saad bin Zafar (1/21 off 10) and right-arm Varun Sehdev (1/22 off 8) rolled through their overs quickly, hustling the batters, and the pressure got to Rangarajan – who was run out pushing too hard for a quick single in the offside. Salman Nazar (1/29 off 10) joined in with his left-arm orthodox, and the rest of the Singaporean batting lineup fizzled out, with nobody else reaching 20, as the quick men Jeremy Gordon (2/40) and Dillon Heyliger (2/44) returned to mop up the tail.

Canada’s chase was never really in doubt, though Rayyan Pathan continued his disappointing form at the tournament as he looked scratchy for 1 (10) before slashing Singapore skipper Amjad Mahboob straight to Rangarajan at point. Matthew Spoors kept things ticking along with 27 (37) before he was beaten by a good piece of left-arm orthodox bowling by Paraam, who drew him forward and beat him in flight with Manpreet Singh completing the stumping. Next ball Nicholas Kirton was immediately trapped LBW by one that kept low, and Singapore were in with a chance at 66/3.

But the day belonged to Dhaliwal. His 100* (108) was laced with flamboyant pull shots and boundaries thrashed through cover as he walked down the pitch at Singapore’s medium pace. It was an authoritative innings that got his side home with almost 10 overs to spare, and served as a statement of intent for the Canadians – who lost to Singapore in the 2019 leg of the Challenge League, but on current form ought to win every match at home to pull ahead at the top of the table.


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