Bahrain’s semi-final hopes in the ACC Premier Cup were dashed by a dominant display by UAE, who claimed an eight-wicket victory at the Mulpani cricket ground in Nepal yesterday.
Bahrain, who won the toss and opted to bat first, came up short against the relentless bowling attack of UAE and were dismissed for 116 in 40.5 overs. Only skipper Haider Ali (23 in 49 balls) and Ali Dawood (23 not out off 47) managed to reach the twenties. Aayan Khan was the wrecker-in-chief for UAE with the ball, as he claimed four wickets for a mere six runs in his 10 overs.
Bahrain’s bowlers had a mammoth task of defending the low total, and they certainly put their best foot forward but yesterday was just not their day as UAE chased down the target in 27.4 overs.
Abdul Majid Abbasi, who has been a consistent wicket-taker for Bahrain in the tournament and is currently the fourth-highest wicket-taker (seven wickets), picked up two wickets. However, it was in vain as Vriitya Aravind and Muhammad Waseem forged an unbeaten partnership of 100 runs for the third wicket to steer UAE to victory.
UAE won the match with 134 balls remaining, extending their winning streak in the tournament. They are now at the summit of the points table with six points from four matches. Bahrain have closed out the tournament with three points from four matches.
Overall in the tournament, there were a couple of bright spots for Bahrain - Imran Javed’s scoring the fastest 50 (17 balls) so far in the tournament. He also has the second-highest individual strike rate for his 53 off 19 balls and is ranked fifth for the most number of sixes (seven) so far.
All things aside, one has to commend the skill and sheer determination of a group of players, who don’t even have proper infrastructure and train alongside their jobs, to take on the best of the region and stand tall.
The ACC Men’s Premier Cup is a 50-over tournament featuring eight teams from Asia divided into two groups of four each. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals. The tournament, being held in Nepal, will continue until next Thursday.
In the next Group B match, Hong Kong take on Kuwait today. The winners of the tournament will play in the Asia Cup.