Oman and Kuwait reach the final
t was semi-final day in the ICC U19 CWC Division 2 - in Bangkok and four teams had the chance not only to reach the final but also to qualify for ICC U19 CWC Division 1- Asia and move a step closer to playing in the next U19 World Cup.
Oman, winners of Group A, were facing Hong Kong, runners-up in Group B, at AIT, while Kuwait, winners of Group B, were playing Qatar, runners-up in Group B at TCG and it was Oman and Kuwait who took the honours. Oman’s array of spinners were too much for Hong Kong as they bowled them out for 100 to win by 30 runs, while Kuwait’s captain Nomaan Sidique had the day of his life as he scored a heroic unbeaten 89 and followed that with figures of 5/23 as his team beat Qatar by 107 runs.
The two unbeaten teams in the tournament, Oman and Kuwait, winners of Group A and Group B respectively, now meet in Monday’s final at TCG.
Hong Kong won the toss and elected to field against Oman and they chose to start with the left-arm spin of Mohammad Hassan but it was a change of bowling that immediately brought success. Nasrulla Rana had taken six wickets in the group stages and he struck in his first over as pinpoint yorkers twice crashed into the stumps.
Oman, who had won all four of their matches suddenly looked in trouble at 9/2 in the fifth over, although they reached 22 after 10 overs without further loss and looked well placed on 57/3 at the 20-over mark. Nasrulla had taken his third wicket when he came back for a second spell and it was the third time he had taken three wickets in an innings in the tournament.
Hong Kong gradually began to take control as Oman's opener, Aqeel Abbas, finally lost patience to be out caught sweeping for 30 and Azam Ali lofted a boundary off Mohammad Hassan only to be caught at cover shortly afterwards to leave Oman on 88/5 in the 28th over.
With ten overs left Oman were struggling as their innings had declined to 115/7, the medium pace of Vikas Sharma and Dhananjay Rao backing up Nasrulla Rana who had taken three wickets earlier in the day. Dhananjay Rao took his second wicket and Mohammad Hassan bowled Amanpreet Sirah as the ninth wicket fell with the score on 118. Left-arm spinner Hassan finished his ten overs with figures of 2/18 and Nasrulla Rana returned looking to take the final wicket.
Oman's last pair managed to add some crucial runs but Vikas Sharma claimed the last wicket as Oman were bowled out for 130 in 46.3 overs. Nasrullah Rana had the best figures with 3/25 and Hong Kong would have fancied their chances of reaching a target of 131 in 50 overs particularly as opener Kalhan Challu was in confident mood as he had won two player of the match awards in the group matches.
Oman had been excellent in the field so far in the tournament, and their left-arm spinner Kevin Kattokaran had a phenomenal record. Oman had bowled out all four previous opponents and only Saudi Arabia had reached three figures with Kattokaran claiming 10 wickets for only 24 runs. He took the key wicket of Challu for two and followed with that of the captain Adit Gorawara for a duck to reduce Hong Kong to 14/2 after 6 overs. Dhananjay Rao and Mehran Zeb did well to steady the innings as Kattokaran finished his spell with 2/13 in six overs.
Hong Kong's third-wicket partnership did their best to be positive against the spinners as Dhananjay Rao hit three fours and Mehran Zeb two fours and a six, but Amanpreet Sirah broke the partnership as Zeb fell lbw and after looking well-placed on 45/2 Hong Kong declined to 46/5 as the second left-arm spinner Sanjaya Ravindra took two wickets to take him to 12 wickets in the tournament.
Hong Kong continued to try to hit their way out of trouble against some highly impressive spin bowling as Daniyal Butt hit four attractive boundaries but Ravindra claimed his third wicket when he had Rahul Sharma lbw and Sirah followed with the wicket of Butt for 18. Hong Kong were 69/7 after 25 overs and Oman were surely on their way to the final.
Oman were sensing victory was close when they took their eighth wicket as Kattokaran returned to have Vikas Sharma stumped. Hong Kong were not giving up without a fight and they can certainly bat deep as a last-wicket partnership of 64 against Bahrain confirmed. Abdul Urslan hit two sixes and Hong Kong were 90/8 in 33 overs with 41 runs needed in 17 overs.
Oman were not to be denied as Ravindra spun one past Mohammad Hassan's bat to clip off stump. The last pair were at the crease but there was no repeat of the heroics against Bahrain and Yash Mehta had the last man caught at slip. Hong Kong had been bowled out for 100 and Oman had defended their total of 130 to win by 30 runs.
In the other semi-final Kuwait chose to bat first against Qatar at TCG and they are the only team to bat out 50 overs so far in this competition. Although they had lost an early wicket Kuwait were 25/1 after 10 overs with Meet Bhavsar and Nomaan Sidique, two high class young players, at the crease.
Kuwait reached 47/3 after 20 overs as they lost the wicket of opener Bhavsar who scored a century against Maldives in the group stages. Fateen Hakim dismissed him for ten from 32 balls to leave Kuwait on 28/2, then claimed a second wicket when he bowled Abdul Sadiq for five.
Kuwait's captain Nomaan Sidique is having a busy tournament as he has been the most consistent batsman for any of the teams, took 4/29 with his off-spin against Bahrain, and even kept wicket in one match. With Kuwait four wickets down at the halfway stage, he was intent on seeing his side through to 50 overs as he has looked very secure and still able to find the boundary when given the opportunity.
Nomaan completed a composed half-century as he reached the milestone from 115 balls with six boundaries and he brought his team to 108/4 after 40 overs, a position from which they would still hope to make a match-winning total.
Kuwait batted with great diligence for the first 40 overs with the captain at the helm. Kuwait's plan would have been to score as many as possible in the last ten overs once they had built the perfect platform and it was a case of mission accomplished as they scored 94 runs in the last 10 overs.
Nomaan finished unbeaten on 89 from 145 balls with ten fours and he was given perfect support by Hamoud Amanullah who played himself in before unleashing a range of attacking shots to reach 51 from 60 balls hitting three fours and two sixes. No team had got anywhere near 200 in any of the matches in Bangkok so, exhausted as he looked, Nomaan should have been very pleased with his marathon effort.
Qatar would need to bat extremely well to challenge Kuwait's total of 202/6 and they looked to be progressing well as they reached 46 with only one wicket down. Not content to rest on his laurels after playing a wonderful innings, Nomaan Sidique was soon in the action again this time with the ball. Bowling his off-spin, he had Hussain Khan caught behind to end a stubborn partnership and now began working his way through the rest of a shell-shocked Qatar side.
He had taken four wickets in his previous match to be named player of the match against Bahrain and he has gone one better today as he claimed five out of the first eight wickets to fall. The end was nigh for Qatar as a fully revived Nomaan was giving us a one man master-class.
Kuwait reached the final as they defeated Qatar by 107 runs as Qatar were dismissed for 95 with Nomaan finishing with figures of 5/29. They will face Oman in Monday’s final at TCG and both teams can also celebrate the fact they have qualified for ICC U19 CWC Division 1- Asia where six teams will compete for a place at the next ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa in 2020.