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T20WC Qualifier B Wrap Day 3: Fourth semi-finalist confirmed; Zimbabwe continue unbeaten run

PNG became the fourth team to qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier B.

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On the final day of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier B group stage matches, the race for the final spot in the semi-final stage was on. While Zimbabwe, United States of America and the Netherlands had already booked their berth, the match between Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong would decide the fourth spot.

The remaining games were far from dead rubbers as they would determine the outcome of the playoff fixtures.

In the end, PNG were confirmed as the fourth semi-finalist despite losing their game against Hong Kong. Owing to their superior net run rate, they pipped Hong Kong to the second spot in Group B, thus booking a date with hosts Zimbabwe in the first semi-final tomorrow. Netherlands and Zimbabwe will fight it out in the second semi-final.

The two finalists will have booked their flights to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Before the semi-finals, Jersey and Uganda will face off in the first play-off semi-final while Hong Kong and Singapore will battle in the second play-off game.

Here's how the action unfolded on the day:

Match 9: Netherlands v Uganda

Netherlands won by 97 runs

Toss: Uganda chose to bowl

The decision of putting in Netherlands to bat back-fired for Uganda as the Dutch put up a big total, largely thanks to fantastic knocks from Max O'Dowd and Tom Cooper. Both batters have been in terrific form of late and shone in their previous game too. Despite losing Stephan Myburgh early for a duck in the third over, Netherlands quickly recovered.

Shaking off the slow start, O'Dowd switched on the aggressive mode to clobber a 57-ball 73. After Bas de Leede's wicket in the seventh over, O'Dowd paired with Cooper to share a 121-run third-wicket stand. Cooper was unbeaten on a fiery 42-ball 81 as Netherlands posted 187/3.

With a mammoth target to scale and a place in the semi-final on the line, Uganda had a tough task in front of them. But a sensational spell from Fred Klaassen all but put their dreams to rest. He removed Roger Mukasa and Ronak Patel on the first two balls of Uganda's innings. At 0/2, Uganda found themselves in dire straits and further stuttered when Klaassen took two wickets again in the third over.

He completed a five-wicket haul in the fifth over when he dismissed Uganda captain Kenneth Waiswa. The Uganda middle and lower order fought briefly but they were only delaying the inevitable as wickets fell at regular intervals. They could only manage to score 90/9 in their 20 overs, suffering a massive defeat by 97 runs.

POINTS TABLE FOR QUALIFIER B 

Match 10: PNG v Hong Kong

Hong Kong won by 2 wickets

Toss: Hong Kong elected to bowl

Continuing their brilliant performance in the second game, PNG put up another impressive batting display. Their start was slow as captain Assad Vala perished cheaply and Lega Siaka could not convert his start into a big score. But Charles Amini and Tony Ura did well to get PNG on track. Amini and Ura added 59 runs for the third wicket. Even after Amini's wicket, Ura continued to plunder runs, eventually ending with a 33-ball 83, a knock that consisted of four fours and eight sixes. His flamboyant innings powered PNG to 185/7.

Hong Kong got off to a wobbly start and were 24/2 after the first three overs. But Babar Hayat broke the shackles in the next over, clubbing Semo Kamea for three sixes. Despite wickets falling at the other end, he did not slow down and continued his aggressive game. He was supported by Zeeshan Ali, who slammed a 23-ball 42. By the time Hayat got out in the 17th over after scoring a 45-ball 86, Hong Kong still needed 28 runs to win. A cameo from Shahid Wasif helped them get over the line on the final ball of the match, ending a total thriller.

Despite Hong Kong's win, a superior run rate meant that PNG became the fourth team to qualify for the semi-finals.

Match 11: Zimbabwe v USA

Zimbabwe won by 46 runs

Toss: Zimbabwe elected to bat

Electing to bat first, Zimbabwe had a decent start, with Regis Chakabva (31) and Craig Ervine (11) giving them a solid platform. Sean Williams also chipped in with a handy knock 37. But it was skipper Sikandar Raza, who upped the gear for the Zimbabwean innings. He smashed 7 fours and 5 sixes, playing a blistering knock of 82* in only 40 deliveries. His destructive innings helped his side reach a big score of 185/6 in their 20 overs. For USA, Nisarg Patel was the pick of the bowlers, registering figures of 2/24 in his four overs. 

In reply, USA had a brilliant start to their innings, with openers Steven Taylor and Monank Patel establishing a 55-run stand. But after the partnership was broken, there was a flurry of wickets which put USA firmly on the backfoot. From 55/1 in 5.5 overs, they quickly went to 91/5 in 12.2. Wellington Masakadza would break the back of the middle-order, scalping three of those wickets. He would end up with figures of 4/11 in his three overs, as USA fell short by 46 runs in their run chase. 

Despite losing, USA still qualified along with Zimbabwe for the semis, with the latter ending up as the table-toppers in their group. 

Match 12: Singapore v Jersey

Jersey won by 13 runs 

Toss: Jersey elected to bat

Electing to bat, Jersey had solid contributions from all over their batting order. Opener Nicholas Greenwood got them off to a flying start, smashing 44 off only 22 deliveries. Asa Tribe (29) and Jonty Jenner (35) also made significant contributions. Singapore though bowled with great discipline, never allowing the Jersey batters to get away. Amjad Mahboob (2/27) and Aryaman Uchil (1/20) in particular, were impressive with the ball. Jersey would end up with a total of 154/7 on the board. 

Chasing the target, Singapore did not get many contributions from their batters except Arjun Mutreja (24) and Manpreet Singh (59). Singh was impressive, playing some brilliant strokes but did not get much support from the other end. For Jersey, Harrison Clayson was brilliant up front, registering figures of 2/5 in his two overs. Dominic Blampied also chipped in with two wickets. 

Jersey's brilliant performance with the ball helped them restrict Singapore to 141/7 and win the contest by 13 runs. With the win, Jersey finished third in the group. 

THIS IS THE BIG TIME!

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is coming to Australia from 16 October to 13 November 2022.