Afghanistan and Oman in the final
In a continuation of what has been one of the most exciting non-test tournaments in years, Afghanistan and Oman reached the final of the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Kuwait today.
Hosts Kuwait reached the semi-final by a very narrow run rate margin, and when they took the first Oman wicket with the first ball of the match, it looked like they were going to carry on their good fortune and win the match. However, the Oman batsmen recovered well to post 160/9 from their 20 overs, Adnan Ilyas top scoring with 48.
Kuwait's top order failed, and whilst the middle over did recover, it wasn't enough, and they were bowled out for 122 in the final over, Hemin Desai taking three wickets to help Oman reach their first final since the 2004 ACC Trophy.
The UAE have long dominated the Asian non-test arena, but today's match against Afghanistan saw the first signs of that dominance coming to an end, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of Afghan cricket continue. Afghanistan batted first, and a true captains innings of 61 from 30 balls by Nowroz Mangal led them to 163 before they were bowled out with one ball left in their innings.
The UAE raced to 66/3 thanks to a quick-fire 36 from Amjad Javed, but the remainder of the batting line-up simply collapsed as Samilullah took 4/20 to bowl them out for just 116, giving Afghanistan a 47 run win.
The UAE and Kuwait still have tomorrow's third place play-off to look forward to, which will be played before the final. Meanwhile, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, who finished bottom of their respective groups will now be out of the 2009 tournament, which will as a qualifier for the 2010 Asian Games cricket tournament.
Afghanistan will have achieved much even if they lose tomorrow, whilst Oman have shown that they will perhaps not be the pushovers that everyone is expecting at the World Cricket League Division Two tournament later this month.