MALAYSIA STORM THROUGH TO SEMIS

Cheered on by a 100-strong partisan crowd in a match which both sides had to win in order to reach the semi-finals of the ACC U-19 Elite Cup, Malaysia beat Qatar by five wickets at the Kinrara Oval.

In a match reduced to 48 overs due to a late start because of morning rain, Malaysia were  indebted to their spinners Nik Azril, Shahrulnizam Yusof and Suharril Fetri as soon as the sun came out. Between them they spun a web which had the Qatari batsmen first in a tangle at the crease and then, whenever they chanced a run, had them pinned down by excellent fielding. Four run-outs, two to Malaysia's captain Faiz Ahmad (to go with the three he effected against Hong Kong in the previous match) cost Qatar dearly.

Ahmad was responsible for the first two run-out wickets, the one to dismiss Zahoor Ibrahim  particularly excellent as fielding at mid-off, Ahmad dived to his left at full-stretch, turned and rising fast threw to the bowler and beat the blind-sided Ibrahim. Top-class. And he'd turned the match in his team's favour.

Qatar then showed themselves masters of the art of turning ones into run-outs as three more fell, Tamoor Sajjad's being particularly galling to Qatar, oh so avoidable as it was. The look Tamoor gave his partner Iqbal Hussain as he left the square was as stormy as anything a west coast monsoon could deliver unto man or beast upon Kinrara. Tamoor's was a big wicket straight after the fall of opener Kamran Khan (35 off 52 including three 4s and a 6).

The remaining batsman crease-cramped and not using their feet to the spinners saw the runs dry-up and the wickets falling. From the Kinrara Road end slow-left armer Yusof reeled off 10 overs for just 10 runs, giving the ball plenty of air, landing on off and middle. He picked up two wickets as did roly-poly Nik Azril from the Pavilion End who fizzed his top-spinners through for just 14 runs. Halfway through Yusof's and Azrin's spells all the fielders were inside the circle, close catchers ringing the bat, testimony to the control that both spinners were exerting and the confidence their captain had in them.

Close to perfect from Shahrulnizam Yusof
Qatar see the game slipping away

Aminuddin Ramly was the one weak link in the Malaysian attack as Ahmad Faiz made his one mis-step of the day, bringing Ramly on at the end of the innings. Ramly's slow medium was caned by Faheem Sajjad who put on 57 with his last two partners to take Qatar up to  134, Fahim Sajjad last man out for 37 (three 4s, two 6s).

Malaysia's batsmen were not to be denied. Iqbal Hussain is the Qatari bowler.

Receiving the pep-talks of all pep-talks from their coach Aruna de Silva in the innings break Qatar came out all fired up and within two overs had Malaysia 3-2. The lunch break allowed Malaysia to regroup and though Faris Almas fell for 13 soon after the resumption, Faizal Hassan and Faiz Ahmad held firm. Faiz survived a chance at square leg off a savage pull shot, the ball clanging out of the fielder's hands and with that Qatar dropped the match. But then their batsmen had never brought them within touching distance of victory.

Ahmad's 57 off 74( Four 4s and a six) obviously won him the Man of the Match. But then their batsmen had never given them a hold on victory.

Group B
Malaysia v Qatar at Kinrara Oval
MALAYSIA WON BY FIVE WICKETS
Qatar won the toss and chose to bat
Qatar: 134 off 45.4 overs  (K. Khan 35, F. Sajjad 37)
Malaysia: 138 for 5 after 34.2 overs (F. Hassan  37, F. Ahmad 57*)
Man of the Match: Faiz Ahmad (Malaysia)

Scorecard

Filed August 25 2007