MALAYSIA TASTE SWEET VICTORY

Hosts Malaysia got their first win of the tournament with a narrow two-wicket victory over Kuwait at the Bayuemas Oval on Wednesday. They were made to work for every run and as the match neared the end, it turned out to be a nail-biter to the finish.

With both Malaysia and Kuwait sitting at the bottom of Group B, today’s match would decide which team would have the best chance of entering the semi-finals. After losing to Afghanistan on the opening day when batting first, the hosts chose to field at the Bayuemas Oval.

Syed Ali Mehdi
Syed Abdul Munaf

An early breakthrough in the 5th over gave the Malaysians a positive feeling. That feeling vanished as quickly as it arrived. The damage was done by Syed Ali Mehdi (40) and Syed Abdul Munaf (27) who put on a partnership of 67 runs that lasted 20 overs. Both batsmen gradually settled into a rhythm of pushing the singles and hitting the odd boundary. It was a clever performance as they created the singles and waited patiently for the wayward deliveries which they dispatched to the boundary in perfect style.

Abdul Liaqat

Although they both fell before the 30-over mark, Captain Abdul Liaqat (38) took over the role of frustrating the opposition. Liaqat was supported from the other end by Adnan Idress (23) and Syed Hassan Ali (22) right up to the 46th over before Liaqat mistimed a shot and saw his stumps knocked over by Sarath Ananthasivam (1-16).

While Shahid Ali Khan (2-50) and Nik Ariffin (2-34) picked away at the wickets in the middle order, the openers and tail-enders fell to the dead-on accuracy of Shahrulnizam Yusof (4-31) as Kuwait were bowled out in the 47th over for 170.

Although already having pre-qualified for the U-19 World Cup, the pressure would’ve obviously been excessive for Malaysia, being the hosts. Losing to Kuwait would almost certainly guarantee their exit in the first round.

This though didn’t seem an issue with openers Miran Salip (4) and Faris Lee (46) as they started with a strong run rate of 4.5 an over. There were however, moments of caution and one such instance led to Kuwait’s first scalp (Salip) and another two overs later (Shahid Ali Khan for 0) leaving the score at 36-2. With a strong performance badly needed by the hosts, Lee and Mohammad Norwira (21) emulated Kuwait’s Mehdi and Munaf. The pair lasted fourteen overs and may have only added 52 runs, but they wrestled the game back under Malaysia’s control.

The Malaysian middle order of Ahmad Faiz (19), Aminuddin Ramly (13) and Shafiq Sharif (18) all made contributions that further eased pressure on the tail-enders as Malaysia eventually saw out the match with two wickets and 2.4 overs remaining setting up and interesting show-down between the hosts and Hong Kong tomorrow at the Selangor Turf Club.

Almas guides to ball to the boundary

A cool-headed and mature show by Faris Almas Lee was enough to earn him his first Man of the Match award.

Group B
Malaysia v Kuwait at Bayuemas Oval
MALAYSIA WON BY 2 WICKETS
Malaysia won the toss and elected to field
Kuwait: 170 off 47.5 overs (S. Mehdi 40, A. Liaqat 38; S. Yusof 4-31)
Malaysia: 173 for 8 after 47.2 overs (F. Almas 46; M. Khalid 3-32)
Man of the Match: Faris Almas (Malaysia)

Scorecard

Filed August 22 2007