Bahrain will face Kuwait in the fourth T20I today at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman, needing to win in order to keep the five-match series alive.
Kuwait lead the series, 2-1, having notched up back-to-back wins in the second and third games after Bahrain triumphed in the first.
Bahrain head coach, former India international Aashish Kapoor, who is using Bahrain’s first-ever bilateral series to test out new players and combinations is hopeful that captain, Sarfaraz Ali, who missed Sunday’s game because of injury, will be available for the match.
“Sarfaraz picked up a slight injury in the second game,” Kapoor told the GDN by phone from Oman. “We’re waiting to see if he recovers in time for today’s match, otherwise we’ll continue with Haider Butt in charge.”
Butt, who has been in scintillating form throughout the series, stood in for Ali as captain in the third match.
Kapoor praised the 24-year-old Butt for his form, focus and commitment to fitness, saying he had adjusted well to the middle-order role the coach had assigned to him.
“He’s a very good batter and I told him that he was going to bat at five or six, because that’s the role I want him to play in the team, that’s where I see him being most useful,” Kapoor explained. “And he’s understood his assignment wonderfully well, as his scores show.”
Other stand-out players so far have been opener Umar Toor, who has gotten his team off to blazing starts in each game, and tall all-rounder David Mathias, who has impressed with his big-hitting prowess.
“Umar is another very good player and he’s also very fit,” Kapoor said. “I keep on mentioning fitness because, in a team that is made up of amateur players, it is very important to try and reach the fitness level that is required for the international stage.”
The series is important for both Bahrain and Kuwait, who currently occupy 29th and 30th places, respectively, in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.
“Each victory adds valuable points to a team’s rankings,” Kapoor, who took charge as head coach just nine months ago, explained. “And this is a huge learning experience for our team because this is the first bilateral series they have ever played. They’ve only taken part in a couple of ICC tournaments earlier.”
Meanwhile, for today’s game, Kapoor said he had told his players to keep on challenging the opposition, no matter what the state of the match might be.
“Obviously, we need to win to make it 2-2 and set up the decider tomorrow,” he said. “But I’ve told them that, even if they’re losing, they need to keep on challenging the other team – not just in this game, but in every match too. I’m trying to build a team culture, a certain mentality, urging them to think analytically.
“And, to give them credit, they are trying very hard. They’re beginning to see the big picture and they understand that, as amateurs, they have a long way to go, that there’s room for much improvement. But they’re trying hard and that is encouraging.”
The match will start at 6pm, Bahrain time.