Malaysia won a nail-biter of a match knocking out four-time ACC Trophy winners UAE to clinch a semi-final place in the ACC's top competition
Hassan Ghulam attacks
for the first time since 2002. Malaysia attained their target of 153 runs just seven deliveries to spare of the 28.2 overs they had to do it in and pip UAE to second spot in Group B on run-rate. Malaysia will play Nepal in the semi-finals. It was the first time Malaysia had ever beaten UAE in the ACC Trophy or at any senior level competition.

After early morning rain delayed the start by 30 minutes, Malaysia’s opening bowlers were in a destructive mood after UAE chose to bat. Hitting the deck hard and getting lots of bounce, Suresh Navaratnam (4-29) and Hassan Ghulam (3-35) dismissed seven batsmen for 70 runs by the 19th over. Navaratnam bowling his ten overs straight through, with a left foot heavily strapped to counteract the effects of a bone spur, he bowled bravely and well.

Suresh Navaratnam
Navaratnam, is Malaysia’s highest interntional wicket-taker of all time, and today did what he does best, making the batsmen play at the majority of deliveries, on an off-stump line. Hassan Ghulam at the other end, a debutant for Malaysia in this event, got the big wickets of UAE captain Khurram Khan for 0 to a perfectly placed lifter and soon after uprooted Saqib Ali’s middle stump. There was some uneven bounce for deliveries from the South End.

From 70-7 Shadeep Silva and Salman Farooq (40) pushed and ran, stopped and blocked, waited and punished any loose ball as the runs came gradually. Their 46-run partnership lasted 12 overs and Farooq and Shoaib Sarwar then frustrated the Malaysians scoring 35 runs for the last wicket as UAE finished on 152. Farooq batted bravely, fighting through a pulled hamstring for most of his innings.

UAE’s Salman Farooq: A solid batting performance

Malaysia needed to get 153 off 28.2 overs if they wanted to progress to the semi-finals at the expense of UAE. Two quick wickets by young UAE paceman Qassim Zubair and the game was evenly poised on 15-2 after 5 overs, going into lunch.

Malaysia’s star batsman, Suhan Kumar

Ahmad Faiz

Kumar and Faiz resumed after lunch playing with a lot of class. Sensible cricket dominated as the batsmen pushed for singles, ran hard and patiently waited for loose deliveries. They put on 67 in 95 balls, Faiz smacking some really clean boundaries with his captain content to find the gaps. On 43, however, and looking well-set Faiz swung a little recklessly at a Khurram Khan and was bowled. Anwar Arudin fell 1 run later and Malaysia were at 81 for 4 needing 71 off 75 deliveries. Definitely gettable, provided Kumar stayed at the crease.

After Eszrafiq Azis (run out) and Suresh Navaratnam (big heave) lost their wickets, it looked like Malaysia could stumble again, just as they had against Afghanistan, where the last 6 wickets had fallen for 16 runs. A stunning six by Kumar hit way over mid-wicket brought the Malaysians to their feet, but their cheers were silenced immediately after as Kumar, feeding off the adrenaline, went for another big shot – and missed. When Malaysia's captain was out, 21 were wanted off 28 balls.

Hassan Ghulam with the bat

With Kumar dismissed, the weight of the responsibility soon shifted to Hassan Ghulam. Malaysia’s opening bowler who has played first-class cricket in Pakistan. Eight were wanted, 12 balls to get them in. A semi-final place at stake. Spectators from the Nepal and Kuwait game, team officials, Nepal’s and Kuwait’s players too.

Four were wanted when Saqib Ali came up to bowl, Malaysia had two wickets in hand. Left-handed Shahrulnizam Yusof moved across his wicket to pull strongly to mid wicket, Fayyaz Ahmed raced to ball but misjudged it completely as it hit his outstretched hands as it flew over the boundary.

“This is a great relief and a long time coming. We have played great cricket this tournament and fully deserve this win. The result is a great boost for cricket in Malaysia,” said Malaysian skipper Suhan Kumar.

Group B
Malaysia v UAE at KOC Unity
UAE won the toss and chose to bat
UAE: 152 all out off 40.6 overs (S. Farooq 40; S. Navaratnam 4-29, H. Ghulam 3-35)
Malaysia: 153 for 8 off 27.1 overs (A. Faiz 43, S. Kumar 65; Q. Zubair 2-36)
Man of the Match: Suhan Kumar (Malaysia)

Pictures by Salman Hussain

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Filed April 6th, 2010