Italy Reclaims Challenge League Spot in Thrilling Battle of Bangi

Italy's Epic Win: Back in Challenge League After Bangi Battle!

Italy Reclaims Challenge League Spot in Thrilling Battle of Bangi

Report by Daniel Beswick, Kuala Lumpur

Italy’s captain and coach, Gareth Berg, known as Ice, showcased his cool under pressure, leading his team to victory alongside Jaspreet Singh at the UKM Oval.

Berg, who earlier took 1/13 (6), scored a crucial 14* from 13 balls in the chase of 103, keeping Italy’s World Cup 2027 hopes alive and securing significant funding through the Challenge League pathway.

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After securing their Challenge League spot, a relieved Berg praised his team’s discipline and the support from the broader Italian player pool, which pushed the squad to excel in Malaysia.

“This is a massive victory for us,” Berg said post-match. “I’m incredibly proud of our boys.”

“We’ve been consistent over the past three weeks. We’ve had no injuries, no incidents on the field. I’m very excited about the squad that we have at the moment and there are boys still sitting at home part of the high-performance group.

“We’ve got a great bunch of guys that we’ve looked after in terms of fitness, and that’s another box tick for us, which is what we came to this tournament to do.”

Vanuatu, aware of the implications of a defeat, gave their all against the Azzurri. Captain Josh Rasu and fellow spinner Tim Cutler were brought on in the third and fourth over.

Rasu claimed 5/32 (10) to earn Player of the Match honours despite the defeat, with his bowling partner Tim Cutler, also the National Cricket Association’s CEO, taking 2/35 from his 10 overs.

Vanuata v Italy | Match Highlights | CWC Challenge League Play-off

Italy beat Vanuatu by two wickets.

Rain added an extra layer of complexity to the match. A tie or no result would have handed Italy the final spot, but DLS calculations came into play once the 20th over was completed. After Nicholas Maiolo bunted a ball back to Rasu for an easy caught and bowled on 23, it was Vanuatu who were in front on DLS. Gian-Piero Meade then fell lbw to Matautaava (1/9) with the score 91/8, the DLS par score at that moment.

Jaspreet walked out with Italy needing 12, and after pressure mounted, the lower order batter took Matautaava on, striking his advancing cover drive through the packed field for four. The shot brought up three figures, with a single two balls later bringing his captain on strike.

Berg saw the next ball as the delivery to seal Italy’s spot, hitting the winning runs over the cover infielder. Sneaking home, Italy’s skipper applauded Vanuatu’s unrelenting press.

“The Vanuatu guys bowled fantastically, they applied the pressure on all of us.

“And we certainly felt that pressure even with their low score on the board. It’s a funny game.”

“We were trying to take it as deep as we can, and just trying to remain as calm as we can. A few of us have played some high-pressure cricket in our time.”

Kuwait v Tanzania | Match Highlights | CWC Challenge League Play-off

The other three Challenge League spots had been secured before the final matchday, with Kuwait claiming top-spot bragging rights thanks to a 151-run win over Tanzania.

Mohammad Amin’s 73 was enough to claim Player of the Match honours, as Kuwait posted 296 from their 50 overs. Yasin Patel’s 4/51 curtailed any Tanzanian fightback, with Salum Jumbe Ally (51) the only player to reach the half-century mark.

At Bayuemas, the already-eliminated Bermuda were unable to chase down a DLS target of 162 in 25 overs against Bahrain.

Prashant Kurup’s 79 (103) set up Bahrain’s 238, countered somewhat by the left-arm orthodox spin of Derrick Brangman, who claimed 4/48 (9) to finish an admirable tournament with the ball.

Bahrain v Bermuda | Match Highlights | CWC Challenge League Play-off

Bahrain beat Bermuda by 30 runs (DLS method).

Brangman went on to top-score with the bat (40* from 42 balls), with fellow left-arm spinner Abdul Majid Abbasi’s 3/13 (5) the pick of Bahrain’s bowlers.

Kuwait, Tanzania, Bahrain and Italy will enter the Challenge League for the 2027 World Cup cycle, with the 12-team competition split into two groups of six.

The top two of each Challenge League group will move to the Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off, joining the bottom four teams at the end of League 2.