Asia Twenty20 - Day One report
The first day of the inaugural Asia Twenty20 has seen wins for Nepal, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and the UAE.
Nepal batted first against Malaysia, and were kept to a low score of 121/9, largely thanks to Malaysia's Arul Suppiah, playing his first game for his country in two years. He took 2/11 from four economical overs, using all his experience gained in this form of the game with Somerset.
He was the star of the Malaysian batting line-up too, scoring 45 from 35 balls before being one of four stumpings for the Nepali keeper. No other player managed to get a start though, and Malaysia were bowled out for 100 with seven balls left in their innings.
Whilst that match was a low-scoring one, the other match of the morning, between the UAE and hosts Kuwait wasn't. The UAE batted first, and lost their first two wickets with just twelve runs on the board. But a 109 run partnership for the third wicket then took place, Saqib Ali hitting 78 from 47 balls. He was joined by Prasanth Briggs in the big-hitting stakes, he scored 64 from 40 balls before being dismissed one ball from the end of the innings in which the UAE scored 178/4.
The target was going to be a tough one for the home side, especially against a team that is much more experienced than they are. But Twenty20 often brings teams closer together, and opener Kahlid Butt got his team off to a great start with 53 from just 21 balls. Like the Malaysian run chase however, no other batsman managed to stay in for long enough, and Kuwait fell agonisingly short at 175/8 from their 20 overs.
The afternoon also saw a close match, as Singapore beat Hong Kong by just one run. In an echo of the UAE earlier in the day, Singapore also lost their first two wickets early on, but followed that with an excellent 150 run partnership, Chaminda Ruwan clubbing 88 from 51 balls, joined by Buddhika Mendis who stayed in until the end of the innings, scoring 66 from 51 balls in the total of 185/3.
Hong Kong shared the runs around in their chase, captain Tabarak Dar top scoring with 40, and they scored steadily throughout their innings, but were left needing twenty runs from the last over. But this is Twenty20, and twenty runs in an over is certainly possible. Sher Lama and Afzaal Haider picked up 12 runs from the first four balls, leaving eight needed from two. Sher Lama was then run out, leaving a win impossible unless Singapore bowled a wide or no ball. They didn't do this, but Skhawat Ali was determined to finish the game with a bang, hitting a six from the last ball.
The other match of the day, between Afghanistan and Qatar was anything but a close match. Qatar batted first, and despite 44 from Rocky Cutinha, some tight bowling from Samiullah (3/14) and Mohammed Nabi (3/27) they were restricted to 152/9.
Nooroz Mangil opened the batting for Afghanistan, and stayed in until the end of the innings, scoring 62 from 48 balls. He was joined by Mohammed Nabi, who completed a man of the match winning all-round performance as he blasted 50 from 24 balls, featuring five sixes. The Afghans reached their target with more than two overs to spare, winning by eight wickets.