|Kuwait's Aamir Javed lets a rare ball pass by|
It's inevitable: Kuwait cannot play a boring game of cricket. Playing their first international floodlit game at Sharjah Stadium they chased down Malaysia's 190 with three balls to spare, in a game that had the spectators at the game enthralled throughout. Kuwait preserve their unbeaten record in the ACC Twenty20 and set up a winner-take-all match against Oman on the final day. At stake, a place in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in July in Ireland and Scotland that goes to the winner of this ACC Twenty20.
|Oman's Zeeshan Maqsood goes long|
The day started with Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Singapore all with chances to win the event - Oman's storming win over Maldives in the morning game at Sharjah Stadium thanks to a rapid 57* from Adnan Ilyas kept them in the race and significantly boosted their run-rate. Oman's win meant that they were now out of reach of Saudi Arabia but Singapore still had a chance if they won their game against Saudi Arabia in the afternoon - after which Kuwait had to lose later in the day. Singapore fell though, their hopes perhaps collapsing with captain and all-rounder Saad Janjua jarring his knee while bowling. Saudi Arabia made an under par 146 but Singapore were unable to build any momentum in reply, losing sapping wickets to a spirited Saudi attack. When Saad Khan hobbled in, clearly in increasing discomfort with every step, 50 were needed with 26 balls remaining. He swung hard and connected often enough to mean that 16 were wanted off the last. The 19th over bowled by fast-medium bowler Liaquat had resulted in just two runs, Saad Khan visibly struggling to bend, or put weight on his right knee. Saudi Arabia's captain Shoaib Ali bowled the last over with his brisk off-spin, Saad Khan on strike. Singapore chose to rest their hopes on Saad's batting, he couldn't connect cleanly with the the first delivery outside off, Kshitij Shinde - no mean hitter himself - racing down the track sacrificed himself. Saad remained on strike, struck a 6 over long off next ball, then makes no connection with the next. 10 wanted off three deliveries, slices his next drive to cover and just stumbles down the wicket to bring Amjad Mahboob on strike; Saad stretchered off after being run out by 16 yards. 10 wanted with two balls to go and Singapore had no hitters left.
|Turning point in the Saudi Arabia v Singapore match|
Suhan Kumar and Ahmed Faiz lit up the stadium with some sparkling strokes in the late afternoon light, strokes of audacity and authority all round the wicket and some fine running too. Their 123-run partnership for the second wicket took just 73 deliveries as Suhan (86 off 45) and Faiz (39 off 31) struck 17 boundaries. Suhan fell to a catch at long on against the run of play and though Malaysia lost some velocity, their 190 was a score made bigger by the requirements of a chase under lights. Only that it was actually made to look small by the Inzamam-like heft, humph and hooking of Kuwait's Aamir Javed. Some of Javed's shots had to be some of the hardest ever hit at this ground. He thundered to a 14-ball 50 after Khalid Butt had gone first ball and along with Yassar Idrees (26 off 15) had the run rate up to more than 12 an over. Their dismissals meant that Kuwait needed to score at 8 an over from the last 12 overs. But they started to lose wickets. Malaysia fielded quite well, didn't bowl badly and just kept plugging away. A partnership of 33 in 26 deliveries between Abid Mushtaq and Hisham Mirza for the seventh-wicket kept Kuwait on track but both got out and there was tension all the way until the last scrambled run came with two wickets in hand and three balls to spare.
|Another booming drive from Kuwait's captain|
Kuwait's match against Oman becomes a virtual final. "We like to keep things interesting," said Kuwait's coach Sameer Desai after the match. Understatement of the year and we're still in January. It's going to be a great game.
ACC Twenty20 2015, Day 4 of 5:
Maldives v Oman at Sharjah
OMAN WON BY SEVEN WICKETS
Oman won the toss and elected to field
Maldives: 102 for 6 off 20 overs (A.Kaleem 3-17)
Oman: 103 for 3 off 9.1 overs (A.Ilyas 57*)
Man of the Match: Adnan Ilyas (Oman)
Saudi Arabia v Singapore at Sharjah
SAUDI ARABIA WON BY EIGHT RUNS
Saudi Arabia won the toss and chose to bat
Saudi Arabia: 146 for 9 off 20 overs (H.Saeed 30)
Singapore: 138 for 7 off 20 overs (C.Ruwan 45, S.Janjua 33)
Man of the Match: Hammad Saeed (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait v Malaysia at Sharjah
KUWAIT WON BY TWO WICKETS
Malaysia won the toss and chose to bat
Malaysia: 190 for 6 off 20 overs (S.Kumar 86, A.Faiz 39)
Kuwait: 191 for 8 off 19.3 overs (A.Javed 60; K.Hayat 3-21)
Man of the Match: Aamir Javed (Kuwait)
ACC Twenty20 Tournament Page
Pictures by Saleem Sanghati
Filed January 30th, 2015