By Shahzad Raza

MUSCAT: Saudi Arabia came from nowhere to upset Kuwait and reach the final of the five-nation ACC T20 Western Region Championship where it will be facing fancied Qatar later on Thursday evening under floodlights at Amerat’s lovely Turf 1.

Qatar's Faisal Javed receiving his MOM prize from Duleep Mendis, CDO, Oman Cricket
Saudi Arabia's Faisal Khan receiving his MOM prize from Alkesh Joshi of Oman Cricket

The whole of Amerat was thrilled by Faisal Khan’s unbelievable strokeplay as the Saudi number three batsman whacked an unbeaten 83 off only 28 balls, striking 7 fours and 7 mighty sixes in his amazing knock.

Qatar had no trouble beating Bahrain in a 48-run victory, but it was Saudi which surprised everyone with the way it forced Bahrain into submission before reducing one of the most impressive sides in the tournament to a spectator’s role in the final. Coming into Thursday’s last game with just 2 points from 3 outings, Saudi was placed at number four in team standings, barely above winless Maldives at five, and looked set to stay there after completing its full campaign. However, nobody knew the circumstances would conspire to turn the whole championship upside down and pitch Saudis against Qatar again.

Bahrain and Kuwait, the two batting powerhouses in the tournament with four points each, had one bad day on the park and their hopes of reaching the final had gone with the wind.

Playing on OC Turf 2, Qatar flexed its muscles by putting on another batting extravanganza, scoring 205 for 5 with Faisal Javed hitting his way to a scintillating 60 off just 29 balls, clobbering 6 fours and 4 sixes. Kamran Khan (52 off 33), Muhammed Tanveer (36 off 22) and Taimoor Sajjad (31 off 11) were equally impressive whacking a flurry of fours and sixes in a superb display of batting on an excellent pitch.

Bahrain failed to match Qatar’s batting bravado, folding up for 157 with nearly two overs yet to be bowled. Fiaz and Sarfraz Ali were its main scorers with 39 and 35 respectively. Iqbal Hussain cleaned up the tail, taking 3 for 23 while Taimoor Sajjad and Inamul Haq bagged two wickets each.

Saudi Arabia’s success lay in cleaning up Kuwait’s top order quickly, reducing it to 12 for 3 in the third over and then 34 for 4 in 6 overs. Kuwait never really recovered from those setbacks and, despite Arjun Mukesh’s 39-ball 57 later in the innings, could collect only 135 for 8 in its quota of 20 overs. Ibrarul Haq took two early wickets while Shoaib Ali claimed the last two as Saudi’s key bowlers.

Kuwait was then left to watch haplessly as Faisal tore its bowling into pieces with brute batting power. He got good support from opener Sajid Imran who was no less impressive in his strokeplay, smashing 28 off 13 with 3 big sixes.

Thu 24-Jan

Kuwait vs Saudi Arabia at OC Turf 1
Saudi Arabia won the toss and elected to field
Kuwait: 135 for 8 off 20 overs (A.Makesh 57)
Saudi Arabia: 137 for 3 off 9.1 overs (F.Khan 83*)
Player of the Match: Faisal Khan (Saudi Arabia)

Qatar vs Bahrain at OC Turf 2
Bahrain won the toss and elected to field
Qatar: 205 for 5 off 20 overs (F.Khan 60, K.Khan 52, M.Tanveer 36, T.Sajjad 31)
Bahrain: 157 all out off 18.2 overs (S.Ali 35, Fiaz 39; I.Chaudhry 3-23)
Player of the Match: Faisal Javed Khan (Qatar)


Tournament page

Filed January 24th, 2019