Rizwan Butt took a hat-trick in a career-best five-wicket haul and Sohail Ahmed smashed a fine half-century as Bahrain cantered to a comfortable six-wicket win over Singapore yesterday in the 2022-23 Malaysia Quadrangular T20I Series at the UKM-YSD Cricket Oval in Bangi.
Medium-pacer Butt picked up the wickets of Avi Dixit, off the last ball of the 18th over, and Abdul Rahman Bhadelia and Vinoth Baskaran with the first two deliveries of the 20th in an outstanding display of seam bowling that saw him pick up five wickets in seven balls without conceding a single run.
Player-of-the-match Butt eventually finished with the magnificent figures of five for 16 as Singapore, comfortably placed at 156 for three in the 18th over before the Bahraini bowler wrought havoc in their ranks, collapsed to 164 for nine halfway through the 20th over before eventually being all out for 168 off the second-last ball of the innings.
Earlier, batting first after Bahrain captain Sarfaraz Ali won the toss and put them in, Singapore raced to 112 for no loss in the 12th over before Ali clean-bowled Aman Desai for a blazing 33-ball 64 to end a stand which had begun in the first over after opener Surendran Chandramohan was forced to retire hurt following a blow to his right hand off Butt.
The other opener, Bhadelia played second-fiddle to Desai before eventually becoming the second victim in Butt’s hat-trick after having top-scored with 67 off 55 balls.
Bahrain’s run-chase began in chaotic fashion with Ali and one-drop Imran Anwar both falling to Singapore captain Janak Prakash within the space of three balls to leave their side uncomfortably placed at 16 for two in the second over.
Sohail Ahmed, in at number four, then combined with opener Prashant Kurup to add 40 runs off just 20 balls before left-arm spinner Baskaran had Kurup caught by Aryaman Sunil for 17.
Bahrain were now 56 for three at the end of the sixth over with 111 still required off the remaining 14 overs and Singapore, with their tails up, thought they had managed to wrest the advantage.
However, Ahmed, who was playing fluently, and Haider Butt then hammered 60 runs off just five overs in a fourth-wicket partnership that effectively threatened to take the game away from Singapore.
But, off the last ball of the 12th over, Baskaran had Ahmed caught, again, by Sunil for a rapid 52 off 39 balls, studded with five fours and three sixes and, with Bahrain 118 for four, still needing a further 51 off 48 balls, Singapore perked up again.
Ahmer bin Nasir, who, last Monday, bludgeoned a 19-ball 44 in a losing cause against hosts Malaysia, then appeared to continue from where he had left off that day, hitting two sixes and three fours in an unbeaten 37 off 19 balls in an unbroken 54-run fifth-wicket partnership with Butt to take Bahrain to victory with two overs to spare.
Butt, who scored an unbeaten 49 in the loss to Malaysia, was also in fine nick, finishing with 39 not out off 33 balls with two fours and a six.
Bahrain’s third win in five matches (their two losses have both been to Malaysia) means that they are now in second place in the four-team table with six points, three behind the hosts.
Table-toppers Malaysia gained a single point yesterday to take their tally to nine after heavy rain denied them a fifth consecutive victory when their match against Qatar was called off with the hosts, batting first, 61 for one in the eighth over.
Qatar are in third place with five points and Singapore, who have lost all their five matches thus far, languish in last place.
Bahrain will play Qatar today in what is a knock-out game which will decide which of the two teams goes through to tomorrow’s final with Malaysia.
Singapore will play Malaysia in the other match today, hoping to salvage some pride by notching up their first victory in the tournament while the hosts will look to continue their winning spree.