Saudis stun champions
It's been a day of upsets in the two big tournaments currently ongoing. Not only have Italy beat the Netherlands in the European Championship, but Saudi Arabia have beaten the UAE in the opening round of matches of the ACC Elite Trophy, the UAE's first defeat in the ACC Trophy since the 1998 semi-final against Bangladesh.
At the Royal Military College in Kuala Lumpur, the defending champions won the toss and elected to field. They got off to a good start, Zahid Shah having Kaleed Shah caught behind in the first over with no score on the board. Shafiq Ahmed fell for five shortly afterwards with the score on 11, and the UAE were looking like rolling their opponents over for a low score.
But Khalid Butt and Sohrab Ali put on 127 for the third wicket. Butt was by far the dominant of the two, scoring 110 from 96 balls before he was run out. Sarfraz Ahmed held the Saudi lower order together with 36 before he became one of three victims for Khurram Khan and the Saudis reached 228 before losing their final wicket from the last ball of the innings.
Mohammed Iqbal wasted no time in getting the UAE's run chase to a start, clubbing 14 runs from the first four balls but he fell to the fifth delivery. Arshad Ali scored 44 whilst Amjad Ali and Saqib Ali both scored quickly, with 38 from 22 and 48 from 42 respectively.
But Saudi Arabia's bowler Shafiq Ahmed then put in a fantastic spell of bowling, taking five wickets to finish with 5/45 and bowl the UAE out for 199, giving Saudi Arabia a remarkable 29 run win against the best non-test team in Asia, and throwing Group A wide open.
The big game of the day was supposed to be Nepal v Hong Kong, with the often under-achieving Nepal team coming up against the 2006 runners-up. Paras Khadka, Nepal captain in the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia earlier this year, scored 81 to lead Nepal to 245/7. Binod Das and Basant Regmi then took three wickets each to bowl Hong Kong out for 201 and giving Nepal a 44 run win.
The day's other two associate v affiliate matches went as expected, unlike the UAE v Saudi Arabia clash. Singapore beat Qatar by 35 runs thanks to 5/46 from skipper Chaminda Ruwan, whilst Esrafiq Azis clubbed 63 from 42 balls to help hosts Malaysia beat Bahrain by 33 runs.
Tomorrow will see Saudi Arabia hope to continue their form with a win over Bahrain, whilst the UAE will come up against World Cricket League Division Five champions Afghanistan in what should be the match of the day. Kuwait will play Singapore and Nepal will meet Qatar.