Kuwait v Saudi Arabia at Kelab Aman

 

Kuwait racing to the quarter-finals

A match which both teams had to win in order to qualify for the quarter-finals was an engrossing affair. Kuwait won through thanks largely to a greater team spirit and self-belief in comparison to the valiant Saudis who played their hearts out but never quite truly gelled as a competitive unit.

The Saudi openers against Kuwait’s new-ball pair was a terrific contest within a contest and one which the Shahid Afridi-like Shoib Ali could be said to winning until he edged an outswinger from Jasim Shahzad for 31 off 35 balls. The following Saudi batsmen struggled as Kuwait’s spinners Navtej Singh and Maanan Hussaini tied them up, bowling seventeen overs for just 42 runs between them. The pair were handled well by their captain, Mazen Ali and were backed up well by their fielders. Two run-outs ensued in this period as a direct result of the pressure put on the batsmen.

It wasn’t until the seventh-wicket pair of Zamir and Sufiyan came together did Saudi Arabia re-assert any control and a late flurry saw Saudi Arabia get to a challenging 157. Had they batted out their overs, Kuwait would have really been struggling but a canny spell by Saad Khalid who took three wickets in eleven deliveries wrapped up the Saudi innings in the 40th over.

Kuwait could relatively relax, having already secured a bonus point, a win even off the last ball would have been enough to get them to the quarter-finals. At 66 for 0 at the start of the 12th over it seemed that a comfortable win was well within reach of Kuwait but four quick wickets brought Saudi Arabia right back into the game. Navtej Singh held the innings together but when he was sixth out in the 35th over with 29 runs still to get, the match was in the balance.

The Saudi captain Shoib Ali who already has a superb doosra brought himself back on as the tension mounted. The eighth Kuwait wicket fell with nine runs still wanted, but a couple of plays and misses later a thumping four over mid-on by Milinda Dushmanta saw the Kuwaitis home.

The distraught Saudi team

The Saudi players showed enough however, to suggest that given some better preparation so that all their excellent parts can form a greater whole, they will be a serious force to reckon with.

Scorecard

Filed August 9 2005