Saudi Arabia and Kuwait set up a grand finale in Asia Sub Regional Qualifier A

Ali stars against Qatar with an unbeaten half-century as Kuwait brush aside Maldives by 8 wickets.

Saudi Arabia blew apart Qatar’s challenge and pulled off an encouraging seven-wicket victory to set up a virtual final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia Sub Regional Qualifier A at the West End International Stadium on Wednesday.

Chasing a stiff-looking 169-run target, Saudi Arabia’s aggressive batting, highlighted by Abdul Manan Ali’s unbeaten 52 in 37 balls with three sixes, clinched the issue with nine balls to spare. Their fifth victory in a row helped them finish the Match Day 5 unbeaten in the event. 

Earlier, Kuwait warmed up for Thursday’s winner-take-all clash against Saudi Arabia as they brushed aside Maldives by eight wickets. This was their fourth triumph in five matches so far. 

The concluding match at 1.30pm on Thursday has plenty at stake as only the triumphant side will qualify for the Asia Regional Final, scheduled at the end of this month in Nepal. 

Saudi Arabia had a brisk start as Abdul Waheed and Faisal Khan flayed the host team’s bowling at will during the chase for a stiff 169-run target. Whether it was pacers or spinners, none of the Qatari bowlers could keep the rivals under leash. 

When Khan (27 in 15 balls with a six and four boundaries) was dismissed by Bukhari Illikkal after a super running catch by Mohammad Ahnaff on the midwicket boundary, Saudi Arabia had already knocked off 67 in 6.5 overs. Waheed also followed him soon after getting a six and three fours in 38. 

When Qatar were expected to apply pressure, the onslaught was carried on Ali and Waqar Al Hassan. They collected 81 runs to take the total to 152. Al Hassan was sent to the pavilion by Arshad for 34. 

Ali however continued to hold his end and ensured his team’s win in the 19th over. Also he completed his half-century to win the Player of the match award deservingly. 

Qatar, after electing to bat first, were off to a strong start, spearheaded by Saqlain Arshad, who put up his career best T20I score 76. His 41-ball fiery knock was adorned by three sixes and 11 boundaries. 

This knock enabled the hosts to put together their best opening stand of 110 runs. Imal Liyanage chose to play a second fiddle. Saudi Arabia captain Hisham Sheikh split the partnership in the 13th over, getting rid of Arshad. 

Sheikh also accounted for Liyanage for 34 in 39 balls, which contained a six and three fours. Later Muhammad Tanveer and Mohamed Irshad took the total close to 170-mark with lusty hitting. Tanveer cracked 33 not out with two sixes and two fours, while Irshad added 15 not out with a six. 

Saudi Arabia captain Sheikh was pleased with his side’s spirit-lifting team ahead of the crucial Kuwait’s game. “We’re delighted with the way the team is performing. We will just continue to play just like we had been doing till now. I don’t want to say anything about the rivals, but we’re ready to give our best shot. 

“Kuwait are tough. There is no doubt, but we have enough resources to complete the job well tomorrow,” he added. 

Player of the match Ali said he was thrilled to get the best player’s award. “I’m very excited to be adjudged the player of the match. Also I’m happy that I could perform the role well that was given to me by my team.” 

Qatar captain Muhammad Murad regretted that his team lacked the finish and paid the price. “We had chances to pin the rivals but we could not deliver the finish touches. We know the areas where we need to improve. We hope to use the coming months to get better and stronger.” 

Kuwait call shots vs Maldives

Maldives failed miserably to get going against Kuwait and could manage on 83 for six in their stipulated 20 overs. Kaushal Rodrigo (23 in 29 balls with two fours) was their top-scorer again. 

After losing their first wicket at 1 to Mirza Ahmed, Maldives could not recover and a sustained pressure forced them to get a poor total on the board. Yasin Patel (two for 10) and skipper Mohammed Aslam (two for 23) were the main strikers for the winners. 

Mohamed Azzam (14 with a six and a four), Azyan Farhath (13) and Ibrahim Nashath (12 with a six) were other players to barely get into double digits. 

On the other hand, Kuwait had a flying start through their flamboyant openers Ravija Sandaruwan and Meet Bhavsar, who got 47 before the former was run out. 

Soon Bhavsar was also dismissed by Ibrahim Hassan. Sandaruwan’s 27 in 17 balls included two sixes and as many fours and Bhavsar’s 28 with a six and three fours fetched him another Player of the match award.

This was the fifth successive loss for Maldives, who face a tough hosts Qatar in their concluding match in the morning of Thursday. 

Brief scores

Kuwait 84 for 2 in 7.5 overs (Meet Bhavsar 28, Ravija Sandaruwan 27, Clinton Anto 23 not out; Ibrahim Hassan 1/23) beat Maldives 83 for 6 (Kaushal Rodrigo 23; Yasin Patel 2/10, Mohammed Aslam 2/23) ) by 8 wickets 
Player of the match: Meet Bhavsar (Kuwait)

Saudi Arabia 170 for 3 in 18.3 overs (Abdul Waheed 38, Faisal Khan 27, Waqar Al Hassan 34, Abdul Manan Ali 52 not out; Bukhar Illikkal 1/31, Himanshu Rathod 1/23, Saqlain Arshad 1/8) beat Qatar 168 for 3 (Saqlain Arshad 76, Imal Liyanage 34, Muhammad Tanveer 33 not out; Hisham Sheikh 2/21) by 7 wickets

Player of the match: Abdul Manan Ali (Saudi Arabia)

Thu, Oct 05, 11th match 9:00 
Maldives vs Qatar

12th Match 13:30
Saudi Arabia vs Kuwait

Points Table – ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Sub Regional Asia Qualifier A

Saudi Arabia550101.860

© ICC 2023

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