Asia Cup Qualifier underway in Malaysia
Qualification for next month's Asia Cup in the UAE got underway today in Malaysia, with six teams competing for one spot alongside the five Asian full members.
And it was the hosts who sprung perhaps the surprise of the day when they took on Hong Kong at the Kinrara Academy Oval. The visitors were put into bat by Malaysian captain Ahmed Fiaz and, other than a knock of 58 by Babar Hayat, didn't have much success in their innings.
They were bowled out for 161, with Syazul Idrus, Pavandeep Singh and Suharril Fetri all taking three wickets each. Singh was the pick of that bunch, going for just 13 runs in his ten overs.
In reply, Anwar Arudin got things going with a four and a six in the first three balls before he was dismissed from the fourth. Suharril Fetri was bowled by Nadeem Ahmed soon afterwards. Arudin's fellow opener Shafaq Sharif had more success with a more patient knock of 49 from 63 balls before he too was dismissed by Ahmed.
With Malaysia at 118-6 in the 33rd over and Ahmed having four wickets, Hong Kong looked like they were going to successfully defend their low total. But Malaysia held on, losing just one more wicket as they completed their run chase with 7.1 overs to spare to win by 3 wickets.
Over at the Bayuemas Oval, Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood won the toss and put Nepal into bat. Sagar Pun, playing his first game for Nepal this year, top scored for his team with 83 from 84 balls before he was run out. Gyanendra Malla and Aarif Sheikh also chipped in with 45 and 36 respectively, whilst Karan KC had a typically fiery cameo, scoring 26 from just 10 balls. The final total for Nepal was 221-9.
Oman took 48 overs to chase down their target, but were never really in trouble. Khawar Ali top scored for them with 84, and he shared in an unbroken match winning partnership of 77 with Zeeshan Maqsood - who contributed 45 - as Oman completed a seven wicket win. Nepal may be an ODI status team, but this wouldn't really go down as an upset given that Oman made short work of Nepal earlier in the year at WCL2.
The other match of the day, at the UKM-YSD Cricket Oval in Bangi, was reduced slightly by rain to a 49 over a side contest, with the UAE batting first after being put in by Singapore. The UAE started with a 105 run opening partnership between Ashfaq Ahmed and Chirag Suri, which ended when Ahmed was out for 64.
Suri had a bigger partnership for the fourth wicket with Shaiman Anwar, the pair putting on 134 before Anwar was out for 75. Suri was the next man out, having scored 111 in the UAE total of 312-8.
The UAE then made short work of the Singapore batting line-up. Five of their batsmen were out for ducks, and the sole bright spot for them was Chetan Suryawanshi's innings of 51. He helped number 11 Amjad Mahboob put on 47 for the final wicket, but that just delayed the inevitable, and Mahboob was caught by Ahmed Raza off his own bowling, the left-arm orthodox spinner finishing with figures of 6-20 as the UAE bowled Singapore out for 97 to win by 215 runs.
The qualifiers will continue tomorrow, with the ODI between Nepal and the UAE taking centre stage. Hosts Malaysia will take on Oman, whilst Hong Kong will play Singapore.