Italy, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the United States of America (USA) all scored victories on the opening day of Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3 (WCL Div. 3) in Hong Kong today (Saturday).

USA captain Steve Massiah collects the man-of-the-match award after hitting an unbeaten 97 from 121 balls against Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of ICC

It was a disappointing start to the tournament for hosts Hong Kong who lost the toss and was put into bat by USA captain Steve Massiah on a cold morning. The side didn’t let the loss of the toss have an effect on its batting with Najeeb Amar’s side posting a competitive total of 256 in its 50 overs at Kowloon Cricket Club (KCC).

Opening batsman Roy Lansam led from the front with a hard-fought 83 before he was run-out by some quick fielding from Massiah as the 30-year-old batsman attempted a quick single. However, Lansam’s fellow top order batsmen Courtney Kruger and Khalid Butt failed to score and it was up to Niskat Khan and later Amar to assist Lansam in raising the total for the hosts.

USA’s Lennox Cush and Kevin Darlington claimed two wickets each with wicketkeeper Carl Wright taking two key catches in Kruger and later Waqas Barkat at a grey and windy KCC.

When the time came for USA to knock off the runs, the side did so with aplomb with Wright scoring a dazzling 82 runs that included seven boundaries and six sixes. Meanwhile, Massiah went about smashing his way to 97 not out in an innings that saw the 31-year-old hit four boundaries and six sixes.

Carl Wright struck 82 that included seven fours and six sixes. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

“It’s fantastic to start the tournament off with a victory and we had some solid batting performances today with Carl Wright and myself contributing to our victory.

“However good it feels to start with a win we definitely cannot rest on our laurels. Tomorrow we’re playing Denmark and they’ll be looking for a win after losing to Italy today, we can’t afford to lose focus” said man of the match Massiah.

WCL Div. 4 qualifiers Italy started its tournament with a positive seven wicket victory over fellow European side Denmark at the picturesque Hong Kong Cricket Club (HKCC).

Alessandro Bonora’s side limited Denmark to 227 in its 50 overs albeit after some decent batting by the Danish including a half-century from Rizwan Mahmood. However, Dilan Fernando had other intentions for the opposition with the Italian dismissing the key middle-order batsmen Naveed Mughal, Martin Pedersen and Jacob Larson.

As the second innings commenced and the sun slowly began to break through the clouds, Italy’s top order began to knock-off the runs required at a steady rate. Openers Andy Northcote and Damien Fernando combined to make 87 runs before Damien Fernando departed for 45.

It was unfortunate start to the tournament for Bonora, who had a disappointing time with the bat in Division 4, with the Italian being dismissed for just seven runs today after being run out by Carsten Pedersen.

It was then up to Peter Petricola and Damien Crowley to finish the match off with both batsmen scoring half-centuries to guide Italy to an opening day victory.

Man of the match Petricola said, “It’s obviously great to win on the opening day of the event and carry on the good form I had in Italy last summer.

“We were a little bit scratchy to begin with but we stepped up to the plate with a few good performances to get us over the line but today was by no means a complete performance by us.

“The Danes are a solid side and are very competitive while also playing with good spirit. They definitely challenged us as a side. They were good but at the end of the day we gave a good enough performance to walk away with the important winning points on day one.”

In the third game of the day, at Mission Road, Rarua Dikana’s team scored victory on the opening day of the tournament as PNG beat Oman by 39 runs despite a hard-fought century from Omani captain Hemal Mehta.

PNG’s Chris Kent and Kila Pala were the players of note in the batting line-up for the Micronesians after the top-order failed to perform. Kent struck 68 before being caught and bowled by Mehta while Pala struck a run a ball 77. The 25-year-old hit ten boundaries and two sixes on his way to helping PNG post a total of 248 under the grey skies of Hong Kong.

Oman’s bowlers Hemin Desai and Khalid Rashid both took wickets including those of key PNG batsmen Tony Ura, Chris Amini and Mahuru Dai.

With a competitive total set, PNG set about dismissing the Omanis in style with the star-turn of the day coming from Hitolo Areni.

The 30-year-old fast bowler claiming a hat-trick on his opening day, firstly dismissing Deep Trivedi when wicketkeeper Jack Vare snaffled a catch behind the stumps while the second two wickets of Adnan Ilyas and Sultan Ahmed coming from some nifty fielding at first slip by Dikana.

Mehta made a valiant effort in an attempt to save his side from defeat, striking the first century of the tournament but his hard work was in vain as the side fell short of the target by 39 runs and PNG’s bowlers cleaned up the tail.

PNG’s man of the match Areni said, “I’m really pleased to have taken a hat-trick today and to help my side to our
first win of the tournament. I’ve recently broken back into the national side and it feels good to see my hard work paying off today but it was very much a team effort today.

“We’ve another game tomorrow and we can’t rest on today’s win, we need make sure we carry this through and hopefully I can continue to contribute to help us win.”

Mehta said of the defeat, “We had a great start against PNG and then we dropped two catches in a span of three overs which made the difference in the first innings where they managed to get a long partnership in place.

“I have to say our bowlers did work hard today to try and limit the runs, with Desai and Ranpura our seamers taking four wickets to dismiss most of the top order. But we let things slip to allow them to set up their major partnership and wickets only began to fall again after our spinner Khalid Rashid stepped in.

“The partnership myself and Vaibhav Wategaonkar built was decent and if we’d had another two players contribute 30-odd runs each alongside myself things may have turned out differently. Areni put us on the back foot when he took three key wickets and unfortunately I couldn’t steady the ship on my own.”

Tomorrow will see Oman play Hong Kong at KCC, Italy face PNG at HKCC while USA take on Denmark at Mission Road.

Score summaries (Day One):
At KCC: Hong Kong 256-9, 50 overs (Lamsam 83, Nazkat 67, Amar 63 not out; Darlington 2-40, Cush 2-51)
USA 257-3, 48.2 overs (Wright 82, Massiah 97 not out)
USA won by seven wickets

At HKCC: Denmark 227 all out, 50 overs (Rizwan 50; Dilan Fernando 3-40)
Italy 228-3, 44.3 overs (Northcote 46, Damien Fernando 45, Petricola 52 not out, Crowley 53 not out)
Italy won by seven wickets

At Mission Road: PNG 248-9, 50 overs (Kent 68, Pala 77; Desai 4-50, Rashid 3-42)
Oman 209, 47.1 overs (Mehta 123 not out; Areni 3-32, Dikana 2-35)
PNG won by 39 runs

Hong Kong innings    Runs    B    4’s    6’s    S/R
Lamsam    run out ( Massiah )    83    122    10    1    68.03
Kruger    c †Wright b Darlington    1    4    0    0    25
Butt    c Marshall b Darlington    5    13    0    0    38.46
Chapman    run out ( Marshall )    10    24    2    0    41.67
Irfan Ahmed    b Usman Shuja    0    4    0    0    0
Nizakat Khan    run out ( Muhammad Ghous )    67    78    5    3    85.9
Waqas Barkat+    c †Wright b Baker    0    2    0    0    0
Najeeb Amar*    not out    63    37    4    6    170.27
Nadeem Ahmed    c Marshall b Cush    10    11    0    1    90.91
Aizaz Khan    c Usman Shuja b Cush    7    4    0    1    175
Asif Khan    not out    0    0    0    0    0
Extras     (b 1, lb 7, w 2, nb 0, pen )     10
Total    (50.0 overs , 9 wickets )    256   ( 5.12 runs per over)

Fall of wickets: 1 – 1 (Kruger, 2.2), 2 – 33 (Butt, 8.1), 3 – 59 (Chapman, 16.6), 4 – 59 (Irfan Ahmed, 17.4), 5 – 158 (Lamsam, 38.2), 6 – 158 (Waqas Barkat, 38.4), 7 – 189 (Nizakat Khan, 43.5), 8 – 215 (Nadeem Ahmed, 47.3), 9 – 234 (Aizaz Khan, 49.2)

Bowling     O    M    R    W    NB    WD    E/R
Darlington    10.0    3    40    2    0    2    4
Usman Shuja    10.0    3    35    1    0    0    3.5
Baker    10.0    2    41    1    0    0    4.1
Asif Khan    10.0    0    41    0    0    0    4.1
Muhammad Ghous    5.0    0    40    0    0    0    8
Cush    5.0    0    51    2    0    0    10.2

USA innings        Runs    B    4’s    6’s    S/R
Wright+    c & b Nizakat Khan    82    100    7    6    82
Baker run out ( Najeeb Amar/Waqas Barkat )    13    27    3    0    48.15
Massiah* not out    97    121    8    6    80.17
Nadkarni b Nadeem Ahmed    38    37    2    3    102.7
Cush not out        2    6    0    0    33.33
Usman Shuja        0    0    0    0    0
Muhammad Ghous        0    0    0    0    0
Marshall        0    0    0    0    0
Thyagarajan        0    0    0    0    0
Darlington        0    0    0    0    0
Asif Khan        0    0    0    0    0
Extras     (b 0, lb 1, w 23, nb 1, pen )     25
Total    (48.2 overs , 3 wickets )    257   ( 5.33 runs per over)

Fall of wickets: 1 – 37 (Baker, 10.5), 2 – 146 (Wright, 31.4), 3 – 245 (Nadkarni, 45.3)

Bowling     O    M    R    W    NB    WD    E/R
Irfan Ahmed    10.0    1    51    0    1    1    5.1
Aizaz Khan    6.0    2    37    0    0    1    6.17
Nadeem Ahmed    10.0    2    57    1    0    4    5.7
Asif Khan    3.2    0    29    0    0    6    9.06
Najeeb Amar    10.0    1    42    0    0    3    4.2
Chapman    5.0    0    19    0    0    0    3.8
Nizakat Khan    4.0    0    21    1    0    0    5.25