Mohammed Basil scored a magnificent, unbeaten 96 and spinners Sai Sarthak and Mohammed Shaheen took two wickets each as Bahrain romped to a 153-run win over Qatar yesterday in their opening day-night game of the inaugural Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Men’s U-16 West Zone Cup at the Vision Cricket Centre in Sharjah.
Chasing 228 to win off 35 overs, Qatar were never in the hunt as a disciplined bowling attack kept them in check from the start with left-arm spinner Sarthak and leg-spinner Shaheen striking crucial blows to completely derail their run-chase. Their innings eventually came to a premature close at 74 for seven after 24.2 overs because of two batsmen having to retire hurt.
Sarthak and Shaheen had gone to work after a beautiful yorker by medium-pacer Anas Obaid Syed that removed Qatar opener Anvit Ram Shetty in the third over set the tone for the Bahrain bowling attack to follow for the rest of the innings.
And Sarthak, with his tight lines, and Shaheen, with his wrong ‘uns and googlies, just didn’t allow the Qatar batting line-up to settle as they slumped to 40 for three in the 14th over before losing four wickets for two runs to slump to 70 for seven after 23 overs, having been 68 for three just two overs earlier.
Sarthak finished with the excellent figures of two for 16 off 6.2 overs while Shaheen took two for 19 off six overs.
Earlier, with Bahrain batting first after Qatar captain Taha Shahbaz won the toss and put them in, Basil and opener Ayan Obaid Syed combined for a sensational 119-run partnership off just 88 balls to take the score from 77 for two in the 17th over to 196 for three in the 32nd over.
Basil dominated the stand, driving, pulling and hooking with graceful abandon as he contributed 80 off only 54 balls to the partnership which ended when Syed was caught by Shaikh Zayed Hussain off Shahbaz for a 79-ball 66 with seven fours.
Bahrain captain Vishwaesh Gurumurthy fell shortly thereafter for two in a bid to score quickly with the score 205 for four with 2.1 overs left but Basil then found an able partner in Mohammed Adil and the two plundered 22 off the remaining 13 balls.
When the final over started, Basil was on 92 and looked likely to get a much-deserved century. But a brilliant final over by Shahbaz meant that the right-hander faced up to the last ball of the innings on 94, needing a six to get to three-figures.
But Basil could only manage two and he walked off the ground to generous applause from his teammates with the scoreboard showing 96 not out, off merely 65 balls with 11 fours and three sixes, against his name.
“Basil was fantastic today!” Bahrain coach Sunil Vishwanathan enthused to the GDN in a phone call from Sharjah. “His stroke-filled 96 not out put us firmly in the driving seat and, afterwards, a good, all-round bowling effort by both the pacers and the spinners ensured we won comfortably.
“This is a good start to the tournament and we look forward to keeping up the momentum and playing a good brand of cricket.”
Bahrain will play Saudi Arabia today. The match starts at 3pm.