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Malaysia has caused the boil-over of the 2010 ACC Trophy Elite tournament in Kuwait by knocking out tradtional heavyweight United Arab Emirates (UAE) on net run-rate to snare a semi-final berth. It will be the first ACC Trophy since 1998 without UAE in the final, let alone the semi-finals – ironically 1998 was the last time Malaysia was a finalist.
After UAE chose to bat, allrounder Suresh Navaratnam proved to be the catalyst for the upset, taking four for 29 from his 10 overs, including UAE openers Arshad Ali and Indika Sampath. Navaratnam's haul helped reduce the UAE to 7 for 70 before vital late-order runs from Salman Farooq (40), Shadeep Silva (20) and Shoaib Sanwar (13) lifted the final total to 152 from 40 overs.
The South East Asians knew they needed to not only win, but do so quickly to squeeze into the semi-finals on net run-rate. Their reply, though, was in early trouble at 2-13 when openers Rakesh Madhavan (0) and Damith Warusavithana (1) departed within the first five overs. Ahmad Faiz (43 from 51) and captain Suhan Kumar fought back in robust fashion, putting on 77 in 12.5 overs to position Malaysia favourably. Kumar earned the Man-of-the-Match award for his run-a-ball 65, which included a six and six fours. A middle-order callapse saw Malaysia skid from 2 for 70 to 6 for 106. Kumar then combined with Hassan Ghulam who made an unbeaten 20 from 17 balls to lift Malaysia to 7 for 132 and within sight of victory before Kumar was bowled. Paceman Qasim Zubair was UAE's chief wicket-taker (2-36). Malaysia scraped home by two wickets and will now play Nepal in its semi-final on Wednesday.
Defending champions Hong Kong put it past Oman to enter the semi-finals in a match that was reduced to 39 overs per side, after a wet outfield delayed the start. Hong Kong won the toss and sent Oman in. Opener Hemin Desai continued his wretched tournament, dismissed in the first over for six. Deep Trivedi and Vibhav Wategaonkar put on the biggest stand of the Oman innings, worth 46 in 11 overs. Moner Ahmed stifled the hopes of the middle order, taking 4 for 19 as Oman managed 168 for 9. Hong Kong's reply was just as cumbersome, at one stage faltering at 106 for 5, needing 63 off 12 overs. Nizakat Khan came to the rescue, striking 57 from 72 balls, including three fours and three sixes. Aided by Waqas Barkat (16 from 12), Hong Kong secured their semi-final berth, to face Afghanistan on Wednesday.
The last match was a useful hit-out for Nepal against Kuwait, who were already out of semi-final contention. Kuwait was dismissed for 120 in 42 overs, with no top-order batsman reaching 20. Saud Iqbal showed some staying power in compiling 26 from 48 balls to top-score for the hosts. Binod Das took 3-24 to ensure Kuwait never got going. Openers Mahesh Chettri (63) and Anil Mandal (33) put on 80 for the first wicket as Nepal galloped home, reaching the target of 121 in quick time.
Social media manager Nitin spent his formative years perfecting the art of landing the googly, before blossoming into a book-cricket specialist. More excellence followed in the underarm version of the game before, like the majority of India's misguided youth, he started taking studies seriously. After four forgettable years of electrical engineering, followed by a rigorous MBA and 16 months in the strategy consulting industry, he began to ponder life's more profound issues. Such as the angle made by Brian Lara's bat with the horizontal at the peak of his back-lift. A move to ESPNcricinfo followed and Nitin is now a prolific nurdler in office cricket, with a questionable technique against the short ball.