Challenge League Day 4: Canada and Denmark get home with bowling

Canada (239/8 in 50 overs; Thaker 57*, Mogan 2/29) defeated Malaysia (118 in 29.3 overs; Muniandy 48, Zafar 5/31) by 121 runs.

Denmark (267/7 in 50 overs; Shah 69, Murad 4/62) defeated Qatar (180 in 43.5 overs; Tanveer 80, Said 4/29) by 87 runs.

Canada and Denmark both recorded convincing wins today in King City, though not without a few tense moments. Canada’s bowlers covered for their batting colleagues’ indifferent display, while the Danes posted a strong total and pushed through a strong Qatari partnership to seal their second win of the tournament.

Choosing to bat at the toss, Canadian skipper Navneet Dhaliwal may have dreamt of repeating their performance against Malaysia from 2019, when they piled on 408/7 including a List A record of 28 sixes and 140 (94) to Dhaliwal himself. This time, however, the captain went for just 8 (9) thanks to an excellent catch from Syed Aziz at cover, who jumped up to grab one that was thumped aerially off an innocuous Pavandeep Singh delivery outside off stump. Rayyan Pathan (49 off 54) regained some form, driving and cutting with authority through the off side (and dumping an enormous six straight), while Matthew Spoors slapped five boundaries in a breezy 23 (18) before getting greedy as he attempted to carve another over point but the ball wasn’t quite short enough and he lobbed an edge for an easy catch. When Pathan meekly popped a leading edge back to offspinner Kizar Hayat, Malaysia fought their way back into the game, with Hayat (1/23 off 10) and left-arm orthodox Anwar Rahman (1/39 off 10) both bowling tight spells through the middle. Canada’s run rate never quite recovered, as Shreyas Movva ground out 39 (81) before charging Rahman with a wild slog to be stumped, the usually explosive Ravi Singh scratched around for a 12-ball duck, and even the usually energetic Saad bin Zafar could only manage a sluggish 11 (17) as the innings approached the close. Harsh Thaker (57* off 72) kept it together in the middle order, and Dillon Heyliger’s 28* (19) injected some life back into the innings as he connected with some hefty slogs in the cross-bat hitting zone, but the Canadians only managed a middling total in the end.

Malaysia’s response with the bat never took advantage though, as Jeremy Gordon decapitated the top-heavy batting lineup as he grabbed Syed Aziz and Virandeep Singh early. Gordon hurried Singh on the pull with a sharp bouncer and he top-edged to mid-off for 5 (5), then repeated the dose against Aziz, whose edge was caught at a straight mid-on. Aziz had looked threatening an over earlier when he plundered 16 from Varun Sehdev, skipping down the track for a brace of beautiful straight sixes, but when he fell for 21 (14), Malaysia were already in big trouble at 28/2. New man Sharvin Muniandy resisted with 48 off 65 (including a monster over midwicket that sailed out of the ground) being the second-last wicket to fall, but it was a procession at the other end. Nobody else reached double figures as Zafar bamboozled the lower order on his way to 5/31 in 8.3 overs of high quality left-arm finger spin. The last 5 wickets fell for just 17 runs as Malaysia were bundled out 121 runs short of the target.

Across the field at the West ground, Denmark were inserted by Qatar at the toss and lost big-hitting Nicolaj Damgaard for 11 (13) early after he misjudged a cross bat shot and was caught behind off Muhammad Murad. Skipper Hamid Shah (69 off 98) again steered the innings while Zameer Khan’s sluggish form continued with 23 (49). When he played a return catch straight back to Mohammed Nadeem though, new man Saif Ahmad injected some impetus with 63 (68). It included 6 boundaries but crucially 37 came from running between the wickets to keep Denmark ticking along. Shah was out pulling in the 36th over, but Surya Anand biffed 40 (32), including a couple of sixes down in the arc, and the next Danish batters all regularly found the rope to push their team score beyond 260.

Qatar’s response came in fits and starts. Early wickets fell as Oliver Hald did for opener Zaheer Ibrahim with one outside off that he edged behind square, and Damgaard took two in an over with Kamran Khan LBW on the sweep and captain Mohammed Rizlan with an inside edge, to leave the score at 34/3 in the seventh over. Qatar fought back through a steady 88-run partnership from Imal Liyanage (52 off 77) and Muhammad Tanveer (80 off 109). At 122/3 in 25 overs, the match was starting to look tense, and Danish coach Paul Hutchinson commented after the match that his men held their nerve when the arm wrestle could have gone either way. It was captain Shah who conjured the breakthrough, with Liyanage holing out as he mistimed a drive down the ground. After that the dam broke, with Denmark taking the last 7 wickets for 58 (and the last 5 for just 10) and nobody else reaching double figures. Saif Ahmad backed up his efforts with the bat to claim 4/29 off 8.5, including Muhammad Tanveer trapped LBW for 80. It was a clinical finish against one of the best batting teams in the tournament, and puts Denmark in a strong position to create a buffer against falling back into the relegation playoffs next year.


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