Challenge League B – Jersey clean sweep sets up thrilling finale

Jersey completed a clean-sweep of round 2 of Challenge League B to close the gap to leaders Uganda

Jersey celebrate

An unbeaten sweep of their opposition has propelled Jersey into a strong position to win ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B. The second leg of the tournament in Kampala, Uganda, has set up a three-way fight for top spot with one round remaining.

Hosts Uganda maintain first place in the standings at the end of the second leg, albeit with a reduced lead over their rivals. The gap to second place Hong Kong has been cut from three points to only one, with Jersey closing the gap as well, one further point behind Hong Kong.

Jersey Soar

After a challenging first round in Oman in 2019, in which the won only two of their five matches, Jersey came back hard in round two. They opened their campaign with a comfortable 62-run win over league-leaders Uganda. From there, the islanders didn’t look back, taking wins against Kenya, Italy, Hong Kong and Bermuda in dominant fashions. Key to their performance was a dominant opening partnership between Nick Greenwood and Harrison Carylon. The duo plundered 482 runs together across 5 partnerships to leave Jersey consistently in commanding positions. With runs on the board in all 5 games, the bowlers duly obliged, with Dominic Blampied, Anthony Hawkins-Kay, Julius Sumerauer and Harrison Carylon each collecting a five-wicket haul in the tournament.

Hong Kong continued to rebuild following the match-fixing scandal and a series of departures that ravaged their side in 2019. They had a strong tournament, losing only to Jersey, but beating their other four opponents. This included a dominant performance against Uganda, bowling the hosts out for 94 thanks to Eshan Khan’s 4/17, before winning the match inside 22 overs. Centuries for Kinchit Shah against Italy and Babar Hayat against Bermuda capped off a week that kept squarely in the fight to regain ODI status.

Hosts fight back

Uganda came into the second leg with a three point lead, but couldn’t cash in on home advantage. The Cranes lost their two opening games to Jersey and then to Hong Kong, failing to get into the game with the bat.

It took a game against strugglers Bermuda for the hosts to find their winning ways again. Bowling the islanders out for 95, Cranes’ opener Simon Ssesazi blitzed a quick unbeaten 50 to wrap up the chase inside 18 overs. They bowled out Italy for 120 in the following game to complete a straightforward 7-wicket win.

Uganda played East African rivals Kenya in their last game of the round, in front of a boisterous crowd at the Lugogo Oval in Kampala. The match was notable for a blistering one-handed diving catch from 41-year old veteran Frank Nsubuga to dismiss Collins Obuya. Set 221 to win, Ssesazi once again controlled the chase for Uganda, who won with 7 wickets and 29 balls in hand. Three wins out of five was enough to cling on to top spot, though the Cranes now have Hong Kong and Jersey on their tail.

For East African neighbours Kenya, the second leg offered and improved showing over their 2019 performances, with two wins out of five lifting them to fourth on the ladder. Kenya were clinical to bowl out Bermuda for 107 in their first match, whilst Rushab Patel was left on 49* in the chase. They raised a total of 340/9 against Italy, thanks to Alex Obanda’s 115 off 83 balls. However the batting was frequently centred around individual performances, which prevented Kenya from posting challenging totals against stronger oppposition.

Bermuda go missing

It was a fortnight to forget for Bermuda, who suffered five heavy defeats in their five games. Following on from four defeats and one washout in the first round, Bermuda remain bottom of the table, now 6 points adrift of their nearest rivals.

Arriving in Uganda with an inexperienced side, the islanders’ batting and bowling was outclassed in all matches. At no point in their five matches did the batting unit pass 120, and the bowling unit leaked runs, resulting in short matches. The suffered a haunting loss to a dominant Jersey, who raised a whopping 371/8 in 50 overs, before Bermuda were bowled out for 80, 291 runs shy of their opposition. Of little solace will be Kamau Leverock’s claim to the record for the highest proportion of runs in a List A innings, he scored 63 off 51 balls, 78.75% of his team’s total.

In the final game of the tournament, Bermuda faced Italy. The Italians had also struggled in the tournament, winless in four games going into the final day. Whilst Bermuda made their best score of the round, 120 all out, they were blown away by Italy. Marcus Campopiano smashed 75* off 37 balls, as Italy completed the chase in 12.2 overs, without losing a wicket

The CWC Challenge League B standings after round 2 in Uganda

The final round of Challenge League B takes place in Jersey between 28th July and 10th August. The winner of the group advances to the World Cup Qualifier Playoff in 2023.

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