Bahrain take control of Group A with a ruthless display against Maldives.

February 27, 2023 | Varun George

Bahrain take control of Group A with a ruthless display against Maldives.

The third day of the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup saw Bahrain stamp their authority on the tournament as they defeated Maldives by a mighty 292 runs at AIT. Both teams had won their matches on the opening day and were seen as likely semi-finalists but Bahrain were clearly a class apart as they reached 380 for 6 in 50 overs and opener Shahbaz Badar hit a powerful 178.

Iran gave a determined display against Bhutan in the day’s other match at TCG and leg-spinner Masood Jayeseh’s four wickets helped them to victory by 50 runs which took them to second place in the table.

Bahrain opted to bat first at AIT and Shahbaz Badar started with a six over long on but the first wicket fell on 22 when Prashant Kurup was bowled by the pacey Ibrahim Hassan for 13.  Bahrain reached 46 for one in 10 overs with Junaid Aziz joining Shahbaz at the crease. Bahrain looked to be building a good score as the total passed fifty in the 11th over and stood on 71 for 1 after 15 overs.

Bahrain were taking control as the hundred came up in the 18h over as Ibrahim Rizan conceded 16 runs in the over. Shahbaz Badar reached his fifty from 56 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes. Bahrain were racing along at 117 for 1 after 20 overs.

Bahrain’s Junaid Aziz scored his second fifty of the tournament from 53 balls with 4 fours. He had shared a century partnership for the second wicket with Shahbaz Badar. Bahrain were accelerating well as they reached 153 for 1 after 25 overs and Maldives were missing chances in the field.

Shahbaz Badar and Junaid Aziz completed their 150 partnership and Shahbaz hit a six to reach 97 but Junaid was caught on the boundary for 75 on 197 for 2 in 32 overs. The partnership ended on 175.

Shahbaz Badar became the second man to score a century in the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup as he edged away another boundary. He reached the landmark from 102 balls with 8 fours and 3 sixes.

Shahbaz Badar was carrying on his merry way as he cleared the boundary on a regular basis. Sohail Ahmed was bowled by Ibrahim Nashanth for 19 but Shahbaz reached his 150 from 124 balls with 12 fours and 6 sixes. Shahbaz overtook Thailand’s Daniel Jacobs to make the highest individual score of the tournament when he reached 153.

Bahrain reached 300 with three wickets down in the 43rd over so Shahbaz Badar still had time to make a priceless double century but the opener’s masterclass came to an end as he this time failed to clear the fielder at long on who took the catch. He could be proud of a knock of 178 from 144 balls with 14 fours and 7 fours.

Bahrain posted the highest total of the tournament as they passed Thailand’s total of 332. Haider Ali smashed a fifty from 28 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes but was brilliantly caught and bowled next ball by Laheem Shafeeg. Bahrain kept hitting to the end and reached 380 for 6 in their 50 overs.

Maldives had quite a job on their hands after Bahrain’s efforts with the bat and they lost four wickets for 34 in the first powerplay. Rizwan Butt dismissed the two openers Ismail Ali and Adam Nasif while Ali Dawood got the wickets of Mohamed Azzam and Mohamed Rishwan. The remarkable Shahbaz Badar had taken two catches behind the stumps.

Maldives were not looking capable of getting anywhere near their monstrous target as wickets were falling regularly against a fine Bahrain bowling attack. Hassan Rasheed was fifth man out and he was followed by Ibrahim Nashanth and Ameel Maroof was the seventh wicket to fall. Veerapathiran now had two wickets and Abdul Majid had again started well with a wicket in his first over as Maldives were reduced to 39 for 7.

Ibrahim Rizan was the eighth wicket to fall on 41 as Abdul Majid claimed his second wicket but number 10 Mohamed Mahfooz led the resistance when the end of the innings seemed close.  He was now top scorer on 30 and was batting with Ibrahim Hassan as they doubled the score for the ninth wicket.

Mohamed Mahfooz was ninth out as the hit the ball to the cover fielder and was stranded half way down the pitch. The final wicket fell to Zeeshan Abbas as Ibrahim Hassan was lbw for 8 from 35 balls. Maldives were all out for 88 in 31.3 overs. Bahrain won by the margin of 292 runs after a dominant display with Shahbaz Badar named man of the match.

Iran had put up a good fight against Maldives on the opening day and chose to bat first against Bhutan at TCG. Iran lost two early wickets as Yousef Shadzehisarjou was dismissed for 4 and Emran Shahbakhsh made only 7 with Bhutan’s opening bowlers Dorji and Wangchuk taking a wicket apiece. Iran were 26 for 2 after the first 10 overs.

Iran were battling hard against Bhutan’s accurate bowling but Abbas Ali Raesi was  run out for.22 from 49 balls as the third wicket fell in the 19th over and Iran were 52 for 3 after 20 overs.

Iran were restricted to a rate of three runs an over by Bhutan with Zahed Afarin facing more than 50 balls to reach double figures but Masood Jayese injected some life into the innings by hitting two sixes before he was out for 31. It was a determined effort by Iran who were 94 for 4 after 30 overs.

Zahed Afarin’s vigil was ended as he was run out by Tenzin Wangchuk for 26 from 82 balls but he had given Iran a great chance of batting through their 50 overs but Iran’s lower order found it quite a struggle as they collapsed to 124 for 8 after 40 overs.

Nine wickets down for Iran but captain Abdolvahab Ebrahimpour was still at the crease and now had the highest score of the innings as Iran reached 150 in the 49th over.

Iran were bowled out for exactly 150 in 48.3 overs as Abdolvahab Ebrahimpour was dismissed for 37.  The Bhutan bowling attack had persisted well with opening bowlers Ranjung Dorji and Tenzin Wangchuk both claiming two wickets apiece.

Iran had battled hard throughout their innings but they at least had a reasonable total to defend with a good bowling attack. Bhutan found this out as both openers were dismissed for ducks as Abdolvahab Ebrahimpour and Dadrahman Raeisi each took a wicket  Ebrahimpour took his second wicket as Thinley Jamtsho was out for 6. Ghakul Ghalley was playing some shots but Bhutan were 40 for 3 after 10 overs.

Ghalley was run out for 22 as Bhutan lost their fourth wicket and then the Iranian spinners began to cause trouble for the middle and lower order as Supriya Pradhan was lbw to Masood Jayese and Namgang Chejay was lbw to Zahed Afarin who also had Jigme Singye lbw to take the seventh wicket.  Ranjung Dorji was eighth out to Masood so Iran were approaching victory with Bhutan on 88 for 8.

Bhutan were finally bowled out for 100 in 24 overs as leg-spinner Masood Jayese took the last two wickets to finish with 4 for 37. Off-spinner Zahed Afarin claimed two for 19. Only Gakul Ghalley passed 20 in a disappointing batting display as Iran won by 50 runs with Masood man of the match.

Bahrain have such an advantage at the top of Group A that a place in the semi-finals will be a formality and Iran have moved ahead of Maldives by virtue of a superior net run-rate.

Tomorrow Group B’s matches will see Thailand face Saudi Arabia at AIT and Indonesia play Myanmar at TCG. The winner of the match at AIT will probably avoid Bahrain in the semi-finals and today Bahrain have shown what a strong side they can be.