UAE, Nepal and Hong Kong post wins
Saqib Ali took charge of UAE’s chase against Afghanistan and scored a brisk 93 to steer his side to a tense two-wicket victory. Chasing 218 to win, UAE lost their first wicket on 0 and, by the 20th over, had slipped to 62 for 4. Saqib held up one end but support was thin at the other. However, he inched UAE closer to the target, striking six fours and two sixes, and was unbeaten when the winning runs were struck off the first ball of the 50th over. Shahpoor Zadran bowled an excellent spell of 3 for 28 but had been given too little to defend by his batsmen. Afghanistan’s innings had slumped from 41 for 0 to 57 for 4 by the 16th over and it needed half-centuries from Raees Ahmadzai and Samiullah Shinwari to 217 for 7. UAE used as many as eight bowlers of which Shadeep Silva was the best, returning figures of 3 for 29 in nine overs.
Nepal’s bowlers set up a facile win against Oman by restricting them to 169 for 9 in their 50 overs. Oman lost their first wicket with no score on the board and were crippled by losses at regular intervals thereafter. Vaibhav Wategaonkar top-scored with 56 but only three other batsmen got into double figures. Rahul Vishvakarma was Nepal’s most successful bowler, taking 3 for 32, while Shakti Gauchan claimed 2 for 23 in nine overs. There was no stand-out performance in Nepal’s innings but all of their top-order batsmen made useful contributions to ensure victory. The platform was laid by openers Mahesh Chettri, who scored 35, and Anil Mandal, who top-scored with 39, and the target was eventually reached in the 39th over with six wickets in hand. Aamir Ali picked up 3 for 48 for Oman but his effort was in vain.
Hussain Butt’s unbeaten half-century steered Hong Kong to a six-wicket victory against Kuwait. Chasing a target of 203, Hong Kong lost an early wicket – Roy Lamsam lbw for 5 – but Butt joined Nasir Hammed for a steadying 61-run stand for the second wicket. Hameed for 40 and the batsmen who followed him gave Butt useful support as he compiled 82 off 117 balls with eight fours and a six. Hong Kong reached the target off the penultimate ball of the 44th over. In their innings, Kuwait had reached 35 for 0 after winning the toss before losing their way. Three wickets fell for three runs and Ilyas Gul cut through the middle order, taking 4 for 33, to restrict the hosts to 202 for 9 in 49.5 overs. Lasantha Dimuthu scored 51 but received little support from his team-mates.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo