A brilliant all-round performance by Sai Sarthak led Bahrain to a 52-run victory against the odds over Kuwait yesterday in their fourth day-night game of the inaugural Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Men’s U-16 West Zone Cup at the Vision Cricket Centre in Sharjah.
Sarthak, who bowls left-arm spin and also bats left-handed, first top-scored for Bahrain with 36 as they were bowled out for a below-par 146 in their allotted 35 overs and then returned the magnificent figures of five for eight off seven overs as Kuwait were bundled out for 94 in 26 overs.
Coming on to bowl after captain Vishwaesh Gurumurthy and Anas Obaid Syed had accounted for opener Ummer Abbas and one-drop Mohammed Armaan Ilyas respectively, Sarthak struck twice within four balls in his very first over, catching the other opener Het Kishorbhai Hinsu off his own bowling and then trapping Farhan Altaf Sain leg-before for nought.
Kuwait were now 30 for four after eight overs and the 147-run target, which must have appeared within easy reach at the start of their innings, now looked miles away.
Their captain, Jay Maheshkumar Mehta, fought a lone battle, eventually finishing unbeaten with 35, as wickets continued to tumble at the other end, with Syed’s brother, Ayan, nipping out two with his medium-pace and leg-spinner Mohammed Shaheen taking another before Sarthak returned to wrap up the innings with three wickets, the last two off consecutive deliveries as Kuwait crumbled to their second straight defeat.
Earlier, batting first after Mehta won the toss and sent them in, Bahrain found themselves in some strife right at the start when they were reduced to five for three in the third over.
But, then, man-of-the-match Sarthak, batting at number three, and Mohammed Adil, at five, took the attack to the Kuwait bowlers as they put on 92 runs for the fourth wicket off just 96 balls.
Adil was the aggressor during the partnership as he flayed five fours and a six during his 42-ball 36 – the joint top-score in the innings – while Sarthak dropped anchor and concentrated on keeping his end up.
At 97 for three in the 19th over, Bahrain looked set for a total in excess of 200 but Adil’s dismissal, bowled by Rudransh Panchal, sparked a collapse with five wickets falling for 10 runs in four overs.
At 107 for eight after 24 overs, Bahrain looked likely to fold for less than 120 but a gritty, unbeaten 22 by wicketkeeper Abhinav Girish Vashisht, an eight-ball 11 by number 10 Akshant Mukesh and an obdurate batting display by last man Mohammed Shaheen, who scored four off 25 balls before being stumped off the final ball of the innings, helped them to reach 146 all out.
Bahrain will now play the UAE, who are unbeaten in the tournament so far, tomorrow in a virtual final that will decide which of the two teams takes the trophy.
The match will start at 3pm, Bahrain time.