A MAGNIFICENT all-round performance by Imran Javed Anwar enabled Bahrain to defeat Kuwait by four wickets yesterday in their last league match of the 2023 Hong Kong Quadrangular Twenty20 series at the Mission Road Ground in Mong Kok.
Anwar first picked up three for 22 off four overs with his left-arm medium-pace to help restrict Kuwait to 156 for eight off their 20 overs before smashing a belligerent 87 off only 52 balls to ensure Bahrain notched up their first win in the four-nation tournament.
Both Bahrain and Kuwait were playing for pride, having been knocked out of contention for today’s final after losing their first two games each to hosts Hong Kong and Malaysia, who will square off against each other in the title clash.
But there was no mistaking the competitive nature of the game as Kuwait, batting first after being put in by Bahrain captain Sarfaraz Ali – who won his third toss in a row – slumped to 78 for five and then 92 for six in the 16th over before a blistering 64-run seventh-wicket stand between Shiraz Khan and Sayed Monib enabled them to reach 156.
Monib eventually fell for a 10-ball 22 off the second-last ball of the innings while Khan smote six sixes and two fours in an unbeaten 50 off just 24 balls.
Chasing 157 to win, Bahrain were in early trouble after losing both their openers with the score 14 for two after 3.1 overs but Anwar, batting at one-drop for the third consecutive game, collared the bowling as he dominated a 73-run stand for the third wicket in only 10 overs with Sohail Ahmed.
Even the loss of Ahmed and Haider Butt in quick succession didn’t slow down Anwar, who bats right-handed, as he continued to plunder the Kuwait bowlers, striking six fours and seven sixes, before finally falling to Monib with Bahrain 127 for six after 17 overs, still needing 30 off three overs.
Ali, having dropped down the order from his customary position as opener, and Junaid Aziz then knocked off the remaining runs with ease, ransacking the 19th over for 24 runs to take their side to victory with an over to spare.
The two teams will meet again today in the third-place playoff while Hong Kong and Malaysia will clash later in the final.