By Shahzad Raza
(Photo credit: Oman Cricket)
MUSCAT: Oman rode on Khawar Ali’s magical wrists to steamroll Bahrain, while Kuwait relied on its opening batsman Ravija Sandaruwan’s brute force to keep Saudi Arabia at bay as in-form players made the most of the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium’s sporting pitches to win matches for their sides on Sunday in the kick-off of the ACC Western Region T20 Tournament.
In the day’s earlier games, UAE thrashed Iran by 10 wickets, while Qatar mauled Maldives by 106 runs.
Bahrain was made to rue its decision to bat first by Oman, sending the whole side packing for 83 in less than 18 overs as leg-spinner Khawar Ali bamboozled them with his subtle variations and drift in flight. His 4 for 16 was the main reason Bahrain could not post a fighting total on the board. Oman’s left-arm pacer Bilal Khan, one of the best fast bowlers at Associate level, was once again lethal with the new ball, taking 3 for 9.
Oman batted cautiously but steadily to seal a comfortable 8-wicket win, scoring 84 for 2 in 13.2 overs. Khawar was the once again the protagonist, striking an elegant 38 not out. Opener Jatinder Singh showed flashes of his brilliant best in his fluent 35.
Khawar said he was happy to find rhythm in the first game of the tournament and bowled in the right areas to make life difficult for Bahrain.
“We know the wickets well, as we play our domestic cricket here. I primarily bowl wicket to wicket and often rely on my variations to take wickets. I was happy to be able to deceive a few Bahraini batsmen today as they could not read my googlies,” he added.
Khawar said Oman was looking forward to its next game against Qatar on Monday.
“We would love to play Qatar [on Monday] as it thrashed Maldives today playing attacking cricket and scoring nearly 200 runs. Winning this game will be important for us as we look to move ahead in the tournament,” said the veteran all-rounder who has been in great form of late.
On the adjacent OC Turf 2, Saudi Arabia had to bear the brunt of Kuwait’s belligerence with the ball and the bat. Kuwait first bowled brilliantly to bowl out the Saudis for 113, Mohammed Aslam Nawfer taking 4 for 9, and then chased the target down in only 10.3 overs, losing only one wicket in the process. Rajiva smacked five towering sixes in his 39-ball 84 not out, while Mohammed Aslam struck a fluent 24 not out.
Rajiva said he wanted to bat freely and found the wicket conducive to his style.
“The ball was coming on nicely and I decided to go for my shots from the word go. Our bowlers did a wonderful job by dismissing the Saudis for just 113 so there was no pressure of chasing a difficult target,” he added.
Kuwait coach Pushpakumara has his eyes set on a spot in the semifinals.
“If we beat UAE in our next game we are expecting to play Qatar in the semifinal, and if we play well and win that game it would be great to play Oman in the final,” he explained.
Brief scores: Bahrain 83 all out in 17.1 overs (Shehbaz Badar 24 – 4×4, Fiaz Ahmed 13 – 1×4. Khawar Ali 4-16, Bilal Khan 3-08, Amir Kaleem 2-18) lost to Oman 84 for 2 in 13.2 overs (Khawar Ali 38 not out – 5×4, Jatinder Singh 35 – 3×4, 1×6. Abdul Majid 2-16) by 8 wickets.
Brief scores: Saudi Arabia 113 all out in 17.5 overs (Faisal Khan 26 – 3×4, 2×6, Abdul Waheed 18 – 2×4, 1×6. Mohammed Aslam Nawfer 4-09, Sayed Monib 2-19) lost to Kuwait 114 for 1 in 10.3 overs (Ravija Sandaruwan 84 – 11×4, 5×6, Mohammed Aslam Nawfer 24 not out – 3×4) by 9 wickets.
Brief scores: Iran 61 in 19.5 overs (Mohammed Yousef 14 – 2×4. Rohan Mustafa 2-06, Ahmed Raza 2-24) lost to UAE 62 for 0 in 5.3 overs (Rohan Mustafa 41 not out – 8×4, 1x6Chirag Suri 15 not out – 3×4) by 10 wickets.
Brief scores: Qatar 196 for 4 in 20 overs (Kamran Khan 88 – 6×4, 7×6, Muhammed Tanvir 64 – 7×4, 3×6, Muhammed Rizlan 31 not out – 3×6. Tharaka Ruwan Kumara 2-32) trounced Maldives 90 for 9 in 20 overs (Mututanthirage Nilantha 26 – 4×4, Ibrahim Hasan 18 not out. Muhammed Awais Malik 2-15, Tamoor Sajjad 2-16, Iqbal Hussain 2-16, Muhammed Nadeem 2-21) by 106 runs.