Group stage ends as Afghanistan and Hong Kong reach semis
Despite some surprise results throughout the group stage, the 2008 ACC Trophy Elite has ended up having the exact same semi-finals as the 2006 tournament - UAE v Nepal and Hong Kong v Afghanistan.
Afghanistan very nearly slipped up at the final hurdle though, as their win over Bahrain was a very close one, by only seven runs. Inserted by Bahrain, Afghanistan's fragile batting line-up again collapsed as they were reduced to 47/4 before a partnership of 114 between Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Stankazi recovered the innings.
Nabi was out for 67, but Stankazi stayed in to make a fine century before he was bowled for 102, made from 110 balls. He was ably assisted by wicket-keeper Mohammad Shafiqullah, who clubbed 62 from 37 balls to help take the Afghans to 293/9 from their 50 overs.
Bahrain's innings started with a 53 run opening partnership, but from then on they lost wickets regularly. Ashraf Mughal stayed in, scoring 81 at a run a ball, but he eventually fell in the 30th over with the score on 161/5 and Azeem-ul-Haq fell four deliveries later.
A late order fightback from Mirza Yaqoob and Abdul Waheed, who scored 41 and 51 respectively, threatened to take Bahrain past the Afghanistan total, but in the end it wasn't enough and Bahrain made 286/9 from their 50 overs, seven short of the Afghanistan score.
Hong Kong needed to beat Singapore to secure their place in the semi-finals, and their campaign got off to the worst possible start when captain Tabarak Dar fell from the first ball of the innings. It soon got even worse as they were reduced to 2/3 and 25/4.
But Zain Abbas and Skhawat Ali recovered things for Hong Kong, putting on 158 for the fifth wicket before Abbas was out stumped for 80. Ali followed him back to the pavilion for 83 five overs later, but they had done enough to enable Hong Kong to reach 255/9 from their 50 overs.
Singapore's run chase never really got started. Whilst Glenn Meyer scored 35 from 31 balls opening the batting, no other batsman managed to get a decent start. Singapore were bowled out for 162 to lose by 93 runs and leaving them kicking themselves for failing to capitalise on a fantastic start.
In today's other matches, Nepal easily beat Kuwait by seven wickets and Malaysia hammered Saudi Arabia by 193 runs after centuries from Rakesh Madhavan and Suhan Kumar.
Tomorrow is a rest day before the tournament resumes with the semi finals on Friday. The day will also see old rivals Malaysia and Singapore face off in the fifth place play-off, a match that could well decide which Asian team gains a place in the new Division Six of the World Cricket League next year.