OPENER Faisal Khan blasted an unbeaten 81 off just 32 balls to lead Saudi Arabia to a dominant nine-wicket win over Bahrain last night in the final group match of the Desert Cup T20I Series 2022 at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat.
The portly right-hander peppered six sixes and nine fours as he put on 68 runs with captain Abdul Waheed (20 off 17 balls) in an unbroken second-wicket partnership to ensure that the Saudis chased down a 113-run target in just 10.5 overs and secured their first win of the tournament after five consecutive losses.
Earlier, after captain Sarfaraz Ali won the toss and elected to bat, Bahrain were never in the contest from the start, slumping to 32 for five in the sixth over and then 60 for seven in the 12th.
They only managed to reach their eventual total of 112 for nine off 20 overs thanks to Haider Butt, who was ninth out in the 18th over after top-scoring with a battling 41 off 43 balls.
In reply, the Saudis faced no real threat from the Bahraini bowlers as Khan flayed them at will, watched admiringly from the other end by his opening partner, Kashif Siddique, who contributed 11 in a first-wicket stand of 47 before being bowled by Sathaiya Veerapathiran in the fifth over.
Khan, then, continued on his merry way, reaching his half-century off 20 balls with a pulled six off leg-spinner Mohammed Danish and adding 27 more runs off the next 12 balls he faced as the Saudis marched to a crushing win.
The result meant Bahrain, who were level on six points with hosts Oman on the four-team table before the start of the match and only needed to win this game to join Canada in tonight’s final, will now take on Saudi Arabia again today in a third-place play-off which will take place in the afternoon.
Oman, having pipped Bahrain because of a superior net run-rate despite being level on points, will now face Canada in the final which will start at 7pm, Bahrain time.