A late assault by all-rounder Imran Javed Anwar proved not to be enough as Bahrain subsided to a 19-run defeat against hosts Qatar in their opening game of the inaugural, six-team Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 at the West End Park International Cricket Stadium in Doha last night.
Coming in at number six, with Bahrain tottering on 39 for four in 7.4 overs and chasing a DLS-adjusted target of 124 in 17 overs after a floodlight failure caused a 30-minute delay midway through their innings, Anwar smacked two fours and two sixes in a 27-ball 37 to give his side a glimmer of hope in a 36-run sixth-wicket partnership with Sathaiya Veerapathiran off just 26 balls after Bahrain had slumped further to 55 for five in the 11th over.
But Veerapathiran perished for a run-a-ball 12 with Bahrain now 91 for six at the end of the 15th over with 43 still required off just 12 balls. And when Anwar was snapped up by Mohammed Jabir off the first ball of the 16th over, it was all over for the kingdom’s team with tail-enders Rizwan Butt and Mohsin Zaki managing to score only 13 runs off the remaining 11 balls as Bahrain finished with 104 for seven.
As they started their run-chase earlier, in pursuit of the original 139-run target off 20 overs, Bahrain suffered an early setback when captain Umer Toor was bowled for nine with the score 13 for one in the second over.
Fellow opener Imran Ali and Ahmer bin Nisar followed in quick succession with Bahrain reduced to 30 for three after five overs.
Haider Butt and Yasser Nazir added six off the next three deliveries before one of the floodlights malfunctioned causing play to be stopped for about half an hour while the problem was fixed.
Three overs had been lost when play restarted, with the DLS-adjusted target now 124 off 17 overs and Bahrain’s problems were compounded further when Butt and Nazir both fell quickly with the score 55 for five.
Unlike the earlier batsman, Anwar found his rhythm immediately, signalling his intent by hitting medium-pacer Himanshu Rathod the covers off his second delivery. But the task of taking his team to victory proved to be beyond even his big-hitting talent.
Earlier, a fine, unbeaten 40 off 31 balls by Mohammed Tanveer propelled Qatar to a respectable 138 for eight off their 20 overs after the hosts had slumped to 81 for five in the 14th over.
Tanveer smacked a boundary and three sixes in his knock and helped plunder 22 runs off the final over off the innings bowled by medium-pacer Rizwan Butt.
Qatar had been put in to bat after Toor won the toss and openers Saqlain Arshad and Imal Liyanage blazed a 41-run opening stand in 5.3 overs before Liyanage was run out for 18 by a smart piece of fielding by Anwar.
Bahrain, then, not only managed to pull things back but also picked up four wickets for 40 runs off the next eight overs with left-arm spinner Abdul Majid Abbasi, who finished with the excellent figures of 2 for 11 off his four overs, being chiefly responsible for Qatar’s slide.
Fellow left-arm spinner Mohsin Zaki, on T201 debut, also bowled well, taking one for 20 off three overs as medium-pacers Ali Dawood and Sathaiya Veerapathiran picked up a wicket each with three run outs adding to the hosts’ troubles as Qatar slumped to 116 for seven at the end of the 19th over, setting up the stage for Tanveer’s ferocious, final-over assault on Butt.
Bahrain will now play Kuwait today at the same venue.
Kuwait got their championship campaign off to a winning start in the afternoon game yesterday, when they beat Saudi Arabia by five wickets.