Malaysia and Maldives eliminated
The Asian Games cricket tournament continued today in Guangzhou, China, with the second quarter final and the final first round match taking place.
The first match of the day was the quarter final between Malaysia and Bangladesh. With Bangladesh sending what was probably the strongest of the three full member sides, Malaysia were in for a tough encounter. But whilst they handled themselves very well in the field, their batting let them down.
Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful, a veteran of 55 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is, won the toss and chose to bat first. Malaysia showed that they've been studying the Twenty20 book of tricks by opening with left-arm spinner Shahrulnizam Yusof, and he and 19 year old off-spinner Nik Arifin bowled well.
At one point in the innings, Malaysia gave Bangladesh something of a scare when three quick wickets saw them go from 80-2 to 82-5. But the lower order steadied things and they reached 150-7 from their 20 overs. Mithun Ali top scored with 39, whilst Shahrulnizam Yusof was the pick of the bowlers with 4-21.
Malaysia then struggled with the bat against a Bangladeshi side with much more experience at the shortened form of the game. Bangladesh used nine bowlers, with Mohammed Ashraful taking 3-5 in two overs and Suhrawadi Shuvo taking 3-15 in four overs.
Malaysia were bowled out for 80 in 19.4 overs, losing by 70 runs. They will no doubt have been wishing that Somerset all-rounder Arul Suppiah had made himself available for the tournament. Nevertheless, they have done themselves proud and will be a team to watch at next year's ACC Twenty20.
The second match of the day saw Hong Kong take on the Maldives. As was predicted, this was an easy win for Hong Kong, who restricted the Maldives to 84-9 from their 20 overs. They knocked off the required runs in 14.1 overs to win by seven wickets, with Durham University player Jamie Atkinson hitting an unbeaten 44 from 30 balls including two huge sixes.
Hong Kong now face a tricky quarter final clash against Afghanistan in tomorrow's first game, with the winners facing Pakistan in the semi-finals. The second match of the day will see Sri Lanka play Nepal in the final quarter final. Nepal are, of course, coached by Roy Dias, who played 20 Tests and 58 ODIs for Sri Lanka. This is his final tournament as Nepal coach, and he will no doubt be hoping that his team can pull off an upset to give him a great send-off. The winners of that quarter final will play Bangladesh in the semi-finals on Thursday.