Semi-final line-up begins to take shape
Today's results in the group stage of the ACC Trophy Elite Division have confirmed that Nepal and the UAE will take two of the semi-final places, but the other two are still up for grabs with only Qatar definitely out of the running mathematically.
Despite Qatar's inability to reach the semi-finals, they've ended their group matches with a fine win over Kuwait at the Bayuemas Oval in a high scoring contest.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Qatar got off to a fantastic start with an opening partnership of 141 between captain Omer Taj and Mohammad Jahangir before Taj was out for 79. Jahangir stayed in to take the score past 200 before he became the first of five wickets for Sabtain Raza.
The remainder of Qatar's batting order struggled as Raza became the first Kuwaiti bowler to take five wickets in an innings, but the start had enabled them to pass 300 and score 322 before they were bowled out in the 49th over of their innings.
Kuwait started scoring quickly, at one point scoring at above ten an over. Jagath Roshantha (55), Nadeem Malik (46) and Mustansar Hasan (43) all got good starts, but none of them could stay in and give the innings the backbone it needed, and the Kuwaiti batting line-up went down swinging.
They were eventually bowled out for 298 in 46 overs, giving Qatar a 24 run win. The result confirmed Nepal's position in the semi-finals. Kuwait do still have a chance at joining them though, as if they beat Nepal and Singapore beat Hong Kong, they could finish second in the group if the run rate calculation goes their way.
Meanwhile at the Kinrara Oval, Saudi Arabia struggled against Afghanistan, who won by six wickets to put a foot in the semi-finals, with the position all but secured barring a defeat against Bahrain tomorrow.
Saudi Arabia batted first, and Hasti Gul quickly reduced them to 28/3, eventually finishing with figures of 3/17 from his nine overs. Abid Naseem provided some stability to their innings with a fine 67, but no batsman could stay with him and he became the third victim for Mohammad Nabi with the score on 161/8.
The last two wickets didn't add much as Nabi removed them quickly to finish with figures of 5/30. Saudi Arabia had made 172 before the last wicket fell in the 49th over, setting a simple target for the Afghans.
Karim Khan fell early in the Afghanistan run chase, but captain Nowroz Mangal steadied the ship with 55. He was out with the score on 114/3, and by that time Noor Ali was scoring freely. He reached an unbeaten 70 from 49 balls as Afghanistan secured a six wicket win.
In the UAE's match against hosts Malaysia, the defending champions started well with 67 from Arshad Ali forming the bedrock of their innings. But a fine bowling performance from leg-spinner Dinesh Muthuraman ended up with them being bowled out for 211. Muthuraman took 6/39, including a hat-trick.
This gave Malaysia what should have been an easy run chase, but they lost wickets regularly. Only M Krishnamurthi provided any resistance with an innings of 40 as Malaysia were bowled out for 154, losing by 57 runs.
Tomorrow is the final day of the group stage and will see Kuwait play Nepal and Hong Kong play Singapore in Group A, whilst the Group B action will be Afghanistan v Bahrain and Malaysia v Saudi Arabia.