In a tense low-scoring affair, Ahmed Faiz was the difference with an innings of 86 off 101 balls - the next-best score from the line-up was 27 - in a 23-run win over Vanuatu at Kinrara Oval to put Malaysia on the path to promotion with two wins out of two games. Vanuatu, meanwhile, may be on the road to relegation after starting off with two losses at WCL Division Four.
Vanuatu took wickets at regular intervals after sending Malaysia in as the hosts' best partnership of the day was 44 runs. But Faiz stuck around till the 35th over after arriving at the crease 11 balls into the match, anchoring Malaysia and providing them just enough runs to defend for the second day in a row at Kinrara.
After 20 overs, Vanuatu were well on course in their 197-run chase having reached 63 for 2. But Patrick Matautaava edged behind off the spin of Virandeep Singh in the next over. Captain Andrew Mansale and player-coach Shane Deitz rallied Vanuatu back in contention with a 54-run fourth-wicket stand but Vanuatu lost Mansale for 26 and key allrounder Nalin Nipiko for a golden duck in the space of four balls to make it 119 for 5 in the 38th.
Deitz struggled to get adequate support down the stretch from Vanuatu's long tail as the run rate climbed dramatically. By the end of the 45th, Vanuatu needed more than ten per over to win. Deitz slammed a boundary straight past Syed Aziz in the following over, Vanuatu's first boundary since Deitz hit one in the 34th, but Aziz foxed him with a change of pace on the next delivery to bowl Deitz for 46. The 42-year-old has top-scored for Vanuatu in both matches at Division Four - 36 against Jersey and 46 against Malaysia - since his remarkable international debut following a right-hip replacement surgery just seven months ago, but both his efforts have been in vain.
Aziz finished with figures of 2 for 22 to lead the way for Malaysia with the ball while offspinner Mohammad Shukri helped spin out the tail with 2 for 39. For the second day in a row, a run-out by wicketkeeper Shafiq Sharif - this one far less controversial than the one against Uganda - clinched victory as Sharif's throw into the non-striker's stumps denied Callum Blake's attempt to steal a leg bye in the final over.