Thrilling tie a fitting climax in Kuwait
If you had to choose a climax to a cricket tournament, a final delivery with all three results possible in front of thousands of fans is probably the ideal scenario. And that is exactly what happened in the final of the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Kuwait today.
Afghanistan batted first, and in front of a vocal crowd certainly in favour of them, they raced to 50 by the seventh over, before three wickets in four balls slowed them down. They eventually reached 151/9 from their 20 overs. The Oman run chase then got off to the worst possible start when they lost a wicket first ball, and their second wicket three balls later. Two of their best batsmen were back in the hutch without a run to their names.
But Nilesh Parmar (66) and Adnan Ilyas (52) rebuilt the innings superbly, putting on the tournament's first century partnership. When they fell, Farhan Khan came into bat in the 19th over with twelve needed, and promptly hit his second ball for a huge six, and five were needed from the final over.
Awal Khan was run out going for a second run from the first ball of the over. Four needed from five and Farhan Khan is caught just in from the boundary. Four needed from four and the seventh wicket falls next ball and Afghan skipper Nowroz Mangal balls two vital dot balls, but two leg-byes are scrambled from the second.
That leaves two needed from the final delivery, all three results possible. The batsman comes down the wicket, and the keeper whips the bails off. Afghanistan have won, and their fans run onto the field. But wait! The umpire has not put his finger up, and Oman run through for a single to tie the game with the Afghan fans celebrating on the field.
It is decided not to have a bowl out due to the damage done to the square by the fans rushing the pitch, and the trophy is shared in what was a great advertisement for non-test cricket in front of ICC president Ray Mali, the ACC president, and the heads of the Bangladesh and Pakistan national boards.
Oman now head to Namibia for Division Two of the World Cricket League full of confidence that they can qualify for the World Cup Qualifier in 2009. Afghanistan will be preparing for Division Five in Jersey next year.
With the exciting final, let's not forget the third place play-off which saw hosts Kuwait give the home fans something to cheer for when they pulled off an upset to beat Asian heavyweights the UAE by three runs, largely thanks to a fine bowling performance of 4/21 from Yaseen Mughal. The UAE, along with Nepal and Malaysia have been way below par in this tournament, and they will need to play better in Namibia later this month.