A must win match for Saudi Arabia if they are to have a chance of reaching the semi-final.

Saudi Arabia won the toss and will bowl first on a scorching morning at the picturesque Selangor Turf Club, a little ground on the side of Kuala Lumpur’s Racecourse. Has always been an excellent cricket wicket, with pace and bounce, rewarding bowlers and strokeplay.

Fiery start from the Saudi pacemen, attacking the stumps and finding edges which have evaded the fielders! Zubaid Ahmed the unluckiest bowler. Maldives 11 for no loss after two overs.

Imtiaz Khan bowling with impressive pace from the Mines End, extracting considerable life from the true STC wicket, but at the other end Zubaid Ahmed looks to be tiring, Mohamed Rishwan flicks the first FOUR to leg off him and Maldives are 25 for 0 after 7 overs.

Mohammad Abdullah (RFM) forces an edge off Mohammed Shameen but slip diving low to his right misses and Maldives move on to 31 for 0 in the 8th over. Good competitive stuff this, Saudis bowling well and Maldives having to be resolute in defence but nevertheless looking to attack at every opportunity.

Maldives lose their first wicket, the buely Mohamed Shameen RHB driving Salman Bukhari RFM head-up to mid-on where Zubaid pouches and Maldives are 35 for 1 in the 9th over. Shameen out for 4, and the new batsman is Ismail Ali RHB.

The problem that Saudi Arabia faces, and it happened to them yesterday also against Kuwait when they let Kuwait get away after having them under considerable pressure is that they just can't string maidens together. Three good balls an over, three from which runs can be scored. Maldives 48 for 1 after 10 overs.

Faheem Afrad (LB) comes on at the start of the 12th over and creates a chance straight away, but Ismail's dropped by long-on and Maldives are 61 for 1 after 12 overs.

Salman Bukhari strikes - doesn't need a fielder as he bowls Ismail Ali for 5, Maldives 63 for 2 in the 13th. Quite a bit of pace being generated by the smallish young man from the City End!

The catching practise continues, the first ball of Faheem Afrad (LB)'s second over is swung by Mohamed Rishwan to long-on who gets both hands on it, only for it to bounce out! Maldives 64 for 2 in the 14th over.

Three in the deep in front of square on the boundary for SLA Akram Aslam at the City End, Maldives 69 for 2 after 15 overs (Rishwan 41*).

If Faheem Afrad (LB) was a little quicker through the air and pitched the ball on leg, he'd be really dangerous. He gets turn and bounce but, for all his potential threat, too many tossed-up deliveries pitching on off and middle are left alone by the batsmen. Maldives 74 for 2 after 16 overs.

Maldives lose their third wicket, Rishwan caught on the leg-side by Mohammad Abdullah for 46 off Akram Aslam SLA, Maldives 74 for 3 in the 17th over.

Maldives appear to be nowhere as fluent against spin as they are against medium-pace.

Runs drying up at the start of the mid-innings stretch for Maldives, just 10 off the last five overs as they end on 79 for 3 after 20 overs. The not-out batsmen are Ahmed Mauroof LHB 4*and Ahmed Yaanis RHB 3*; Salman Bukhari RFM 2-18, Akram Aslam SLA 1-9 so far.

Akram Aslam fires one in, faster and flatter and has Yaanis lbw, Maldives 83 for 4 at the start of the 23rd over (M.Rishwan 46), two wickets for Aslam now.

Faheem Afrad LB now on at the City End for his fourth over, 0-18 so far, has had two chances missed. He replaces Akram Aslam SLA 2-8 off 6 overs. Maldives 88 for 4 after 27 overs, 19 runs off the last 12 overs, Mohamed Akram RHB and Saafee Saeed RHB the two Maldivians at the crease.

A lot riding on this match: Maldives want their second win to all but guarantee themselves a place in the semi-final, Saudi Arabia wants their first win or they're pretty much out of the semi-finals.

Immad Shams celebrates - Faheem Afrad takes the catch and Ahmed Mauroof's out for 11, Maldives now 92 for 5 in the 29th over.

Two quick wickets for Saudi Arabia - Hassan Haziq caught behind for 0 second ball off Faheem Afrad and Maldives struggling now 93 for 6 after 30. Just 24 runs off the last 15 overs, Saudi's spinners taking four wickets in that time too.

Maldives pass 100 with their first boundary since the 12th over with, have really struggled against the Saudi spinners, Maldives 106 for 6 after 36 overs, just 37 runs off the last 21 overs, losing four wickets in that time.

Ibrahim Nashath's stumped by Hassan Bukhari for 7 off Immad Shams (who finishes with 10-0-28-3) and Maldives, trying to put their pedal to the metal are 114 for 7 after 38 overs. New batsman is Leem Shafeeg, Saafee Saeed is the not-out bat.

Maldives 123 for 7 after 40 overs, will look to attack the late-innings pacemen because the Saudi spinners have had them in all kinds of trouble. Maldives captain Mohamed Akram at the crease, 26*, and much depends on him. 200 looks too far away but 175 will give the Maldives bowlers something to work with.

Saudi Arabia get another wicket, Emad Uddin RFM bowling Leem Shafeeg for 2 in his first over, and Maldives are 133 for 8 in the 43rd, captain Akram 32*.

Saudi Arabia strikes again, Maldives now 140 for 9 (M.Rashid 46) in the 45th over, Salman Zaki's out, stumped. Last batsman's Hammadh Zareer.

Maldives: 141 all out off 44.5 overs (M.Rashid 46, M.Akram 32*; I.Shams 3-28, E.Uddin 3-3)


Good effort by the Saudi bowlers who could have had Maldives out for even less had they held seven chances. Maldives were either belligerent or cautious and really didn't work the ball into the gaps enough times to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Ahmed Mauroff LFM to open the bowling for Maldives from the City End at STC, Emad Uddin LHB to take strike...

Maldives try spin straight away and Salman Zaki OB strikes having Umer Baig caught by Mohamed Akram for 0 at mid-on! Saudi Arabia 2 for 1 in the second over

The classy Emad Uddin LHB is out! Just diverted a ball outside off from Ahmed Mauroof LFM last ball of the third over to second slip where Ismail Ali pouches and Saudi Arabia are 12 for 2, with ten minutes to go to lunch.

And another wicket falls! Hassan Bukhari lbw to Salman Zaki for no score and Saudi Arabia are 12 for 3 after 4 overs, Zubaid Ahmed and Immad Shams the batsmen now.

Straight SIX by Zubaid Ahmed off Ahmed Mauroof, top shot and Saudi Arabia have plenty of ability left in them yet. 20 for 3 after 5 overs.

Immad Shams RHB also shows he can bat, Salman Zaki leaking 13 runs in his last over before lunch, Saudi Arabia 33 for 3 after 6 overs.

Saudi Arabia go into LUNCH on 42 for 3 after 7 overs

Saudi Arabia need another 100 to win and it looks like Zubaid Ahmed wants to knock them off inside an hour. Two glorious FOURS off Salman Zaki to take the Saudis to 55 for 3 after 8.

Zubaid Ahmed survives a swirling chance, hanging in the air a long time, first ball of the ninth over, Rishwan at mid-off misjudging it to palm it down, Imad Shams looking good too with a FOUR through mid-on. Saudi Arabia 63 for 3 after 9 overs.

Saudis cruising here, 78 for 3 after 12 overs, needing just 54 more to win. Zubaid Ahmed 44*.

Zubaid Ahmed passes 50, Saudi Arabia 94 for 3 in the 15th over and the compact STC ground is starting to look very big to the Maldives fielders.

The Saudi fielding was a coach's nightmare, the Maldivian fielding likewise. Another critical catch dropped and then a stumping missed off Hammadh Zareer and Saudi Arabia are 112 for 3 after 17 overs.

Immad Shams gets to 50 too, joining Zubaid Ahmed on the landmark, and Saudi Arabia are 121 for 3 after 18 overs. Maldives flatter than roadkill on the field.

16 off an Ismail Ali over, two SIXES and a FOUR, mean Saudi Arabia are just another six away, 137 for 3 after 19 overs.

Zubaid Ahmed's bowled, giving Salman Zaki the charge, but he's done enough in a 127-run partnership with Immad Shams and Saudi Arabia are 139 for 4 in the 20th over.

New bat Akram Aslam hits his second ball for FOUR and Saudi Arabia made it look so easy in this six-wicket win.

Maldives now have a must-win game against Kuwait if they are to reach the semis - which then means that Group A will be decided on run-rate between Kuwait, Maldives and Saudi Arabia. Much to play for! Saudi Arabia starting to look good - have a good attack and fine bats - and if they could catch.....! Maldives literally let this game slip away from them. Kuwait the form side, won't want to throw it away at the last....

Saudi Arabia: Mohamad Abdullah (Captain), Hassan Bukhari, Faheem Afrad, Salman Bukhari, Immad Shams, Umer Baig, Mohammad Adnan, Emad Uddin, Zubaid Ahmed, Imtiaz Khan, Akram Aslam, Basim Chishty (12th Man)

Maldives: Mohamed Akram (Captain), Mohamed Shameen, Ahmed Mauroof, Ibrahim Nashath, Hassan Haziq, Slamn Zaki, Mohamed Rishwan, Ismail Ali, Hammadh Zareer, Leem Shafeeg, Ahmed Yaanis, Mabrook Hassan (12th Man)

Day 2
Maldives v Saudi Arabia at Selangor Turf Club
Saudi Arabia won the toss and elected to field
Maldives: 141 all out off 44.5 overs (M.Rishwan 46, M.Akram 32*; I.Shams 3-28, E.Uddin 3-3)
Saudi Arabia: 143 for 4 off 20 overs (Z.Ahmed 57, I.Shams 67*; S.Zaki 3-28)
Man of the Match: Immad Shams (Saudi Arabia)

Pictures by Peter Lim

Tournament page

Filed July 4th, 2011