It was a potential loophole that some had identified years ago, but Malaysia were - as far as anyone can tell - the first to exploit it today in their Challenge League Play-Off match against Vanuatu. Whilst targets for net run rate will often say that a team needs to score their runs in a certain number of overs, the reality is that teams can take a few balls longer if they win the match with a four or six, thus overshooting their target.

This means that with scores level, there are certain circumstances where it can become beneficial to bowl a deliberate wide to prevent a team being able to lift their net run rate above that of the bowling team.

This is exactly what transpired today at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur as hosts Malaysia took on Vanuatu. Vanuatu had to win to be in with a chance, but if unbeaten Bahrain beat Tanzania in the other Group B match, they could only qualify if they went past Malaysia on net run rate.

Vanuatu's hopes were raised when they bowled out the home side for just 124, Josh Rasu taking 4-31, meaning that Vanuatu needed to score 125 in 28.1 overs.

After 27 overs, Vanuatu were on 113-7, needing 12 in 7 balls. Eight runs were taken from the 28th over, meaning that when Vanuatu could only manage a leg-bye from the first ball of the 29th over, Malaysia thought they were safe. 

By the end of that over, scores were level and a message was relayed to the Malaysian fielders pointing out that Vanuatu could still pass Malaysia on net run rate if they hit either of the first two balls of the 30th over for six. So in scenes reminiscent of Trevor Chappell's infamous underarm bowling incident, Vijay Unni bowled a deliberate wide, meaning that Malaysia's net run rate would remain above that of Vanuatu.

Vanuatu captain Josh Rasu was clearly unimpressed when interviewed after the game, offering only one word answers.

But it wasn't over yet - if Tanzania were to beat Bahrain, the tiebreaker between Malaysia and Vanuatu would be the head to head result. With Vanuatu players surrounding laptops watching the game back at the team hotel, Kassim Nassoro took the final Bahrain wicket to secure a 20 run win for the African side, and leaving Malaysia at the foot of the table, their skullduggery undone by results elsewhere.

The finish to Group A was far more standard by comparison. If Bermuda beat Kuwait, Kuwait would be eliminated, whilst if Kuwait won, Saudi Arabia would be eliminated by virtue of their defeat against Bermuda yesterday.

Bermuda's total of 226-9 from their 50 overs wasn't enough as Kuwait chased down their target with two overs to spare, winning by five wickets thanks to Meet Bhavsar's maiden List A century,

With teams carrying points forward to the Super Six stage for those matches against teams from their group, Kuwait and Tanzania are now the front runners in that stage with four points, whilst Bermuda and Vanuatu have some work to do to retain their Challenge League status as they start on zero. Bahrain and Italy each have two points.

Teams have a day to recover before their first Super Six matches on Wednesday when Bermuda play Tanzania, Bahrain take on Italy and Kuwait face off against Vanuatu.