Afghanistan v Nepal in final
Afghanistan and Nepal both won their semi-finals yesterday, and Kuwait won the 9th place play-off.
Nepal chose to bowl first against Malaysia, and quickly bowled Malaysia out for just 54 in a little over 30 overs, Paras Khadka taking 5/21. Nepal knocked off the runs in 20 overs, but lost five wickets in the process. Malaysia's capitulation in this match will have a lot of people asking questions about the decision to give them an automatic spot in the 2008 World Cup.
Afghanistan elected to bat and got off to a great start thanks to a 126 run partnership between Sajed Khan and Obiadullah Kunari. Kunari was dismissed first for 76. Khan carried on to score 82 before becoming the first victim of Owais Hameed. Hameed then put in a fantastic bowling performance, taking 6/58 as the Afghans were bowled out for 255.
Another great partnership started the UAE innings, with Arjun Lanba and Mehtab Ali putting on 99 for the second wicket. Lanba was eventually dismissed for 73 and the rest of the batting line-up collapsed, Izatullah Khan taking 4/28. Afghanistan thus reach their first major tournament final at any level. Even if they don't win, this is still an incredible achievement when you consider that cricket was illegal under the Taliban less than ten years ago.
The other business of the day was the 9th place play-off between Kuwait and Thailand. After bowling the Thais out for 133, Kuwait started well with a 96 run opening partnership, Shoeb Mohammad dominating with a 43 ball 56. His dismissal sparked a mini collapse when he was the first victim of a hat-trick by Nopphon Senamontree, who took 4/20. He couldn't stop the Kuwaiti win though, and they reached the target in the 27th over to win by five wickets.
Today's matches will see Malaysia play the UAE for 3rd place, Singapore take on Qatar for 5th place, whilst the 7th place play-off will be between Oman and Hong Kong. The final takes place on Wednesday.