All-round Afghanistan cruise to title win
An all-round display from Afghanistan helped them steamroll Nepal and claim the ACC Premier League title with a 108 run (D/L method) win in their last league game. As the top two teams in the Premier League, both Afghanistan and Nepal have qualified for the Asian Cricket Council Championship to be played later this year.
The top-order set the foundation for the win, with fifties from Usman Ghani (51) and Hashmatullah Shaidi (51). A brisk 25-ball 34 from captain Mohammad Nabi lifted them after quick wickets, as Afghanistan eventually finished at a strong 262.
Nepal's reply was nearly decimated at the start as Dawlat Zadran ran through the top order to leave them at 40 for 4. From thereon, the chase was always going to be a difficult one and Nepal's chances of salvaging some pride were dealt another blow when rain interrupted the game. After the rain delay extended for more than hour, Nepal resumed their chase at 56 for 5 needing 181 to win from 15 overs.
They lost Aarif Sheikh in the first over after resumption but Paras Khadka tried to stall Afghanistan's charge with a 51-ball 33. Once he was out, the ninth-wicket pair of Shakti Gauchan and Sompal Kami played off most of the remaining overs as Afghanistan coasted to the win. Dawlat Zadran was named Man of the Match for his 4 for 26.
UAE overtook Oman to finish third in the points table, by virtue of a better net run-rate, with a 57-run win in their last match of the competition. In spite of the result, both teams qualified for the Asian Cricket Council Championship, which is to be held later in the year.
UAE were asked to bat and got off to a solid start as the openers put up 41 runs. Mohammad Shahzad top-scored with 50 but UAE lost regular wickets which halted the momentum. They were eventually bowled out for 162 with more than 11 overs to go. Medium-pacer Munis Ansari picked up four wickets in his nine overs, giving away 43 runs.
In the chase, Oman had recovered from a shaky start and had reached 75 for 3 but they lost seven wickets for 30 runs and were shot out for 103. Vaibhav Wategaonkar (34) was the only one who provided any resistance. Fayyaz Ahmed and Kamran Shazad picked up three wickets each.
Hong Kong beat Malaysia by four wickets at Selangor Turf Club, to pick up their first points of the tournament. Malaysia, who were put in to bat, were struggling to put up a competitive total after they lost half their side for 79 in the 17th over. Khizar Hayat (37) and Hammadullah Khan (38) revived the side with a 66-run, sixth-wicket stand, but Malaysia could only manage 184 runs as they were bowled out in the 47th over. Left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed finished with figures of 3 for 28 in 8.5 overs.
In reply, Hong Kong were in a commanding position at 93 for 1 but lost two wickets in four balls, which evened the game out. Babar Hayat scored a 76-ball 45 to guide Hong Kong to a win, with 47 balls to spare. Hayat and Shahrulnizam Yusof shared four wickets among them.