Final a thriller as UAE and Nepal tie
The old stadium at Sharjah has seen many international matches over the years, but its unlikely to have seen many more exciting than today's final of the ACC Trophy Elite between the UAE and Nepal.
The UAE may have been the notional home side, but the crowd was predominately made up of Nepal supporters, making into somewhat of a home game for them. Nepal captain Paras Khadka won the toss and put the UAE into bat.
Shakti Gauchan bowled a maiden first up, which was followed by Prithu Baskota running out Arshad Ali from the first ball of the second over. The UAE soon found themselves in trouble on 24-3 in the seventh over, before skipper Khurram Khan began the fightback.
Khan put on 46 for the fourth wicket with Haroon Iftikhar and 87 for the fifth wicket with Saqib Ali before he was out for 61, at which point Ali took over. He stayed in until the end of the innings to score 101, hitting a six and a four from the final two balls to bring up his century.
Nepal sometimes struggle when chasing, often losing early wickets, but this time they were able to put on an opening partnership of 94 which ended when Anil Mandal was out for 44. Opening partner Subash Khakurel was out soon afterwards for 55.
Nepal began to lose wickets regularly, as they struggled to keep up with the required run rate. Sharad Vesawkar managed to give the innings some impetus, and he was at the crease with Shakti Gauchan when Nepal entered the final over of their run chase with twelve runs required from the final over.
Shadeep Silva was given the duty of the bowling that final over, and he started well with a dot, followed by two singles, leaving Nepal needing ten from three. A boundary was needed and Gauchan delivered smashing the ball over long on for a six.
Gauchan played to long on again from the next ball, managing to turn a single into a two when the bowler fumbled the return. Two needed from the last ball, and Gauchan drove the ball to long off. They turned for a second but Gauchan couldn't beat the throw and he was run out, ending the match in thrilling fashion with a tie.
The playing regulations didn't allow for a super over, so the trophy was shared. It is a fifth title for the UAE - their first win since 2006 - and the first for Nepal after twice being runners-up in 2002 and 2010. For Nepal captain Paras Khadka there was the extra bonus of the man of the series award.
In the third place play-off at the ICC Global Cricket Academy, Afghanistan bowled out Malaysia for 198, Shafiq Sharif top scoring with 69. Afghanistan knocked off the runs in rapid fashion, winning by 8 wickets in 23.5 overs, Mohammad Shahzad smashing an unbeaten 92 from 69 balls, finishing the game in fine style with a six.
The finalists and Afghanistan will now play a tournament in Singapore next year - along with the hosts - that will also involve the A sides of the four Asian Test playing nations.
The next ACC tournament will be a women's Twenty20 tournament that starts on 24 October in China involving the four full members, the hosts, Thailand, Nepal and Hong Kong. The ACC Trophy Challenge tournament will be played in Thailand in December.
Finally, it is perhaps worth pointing out the rather depressing fact this has been one of only three 50 over regional tournaments in the whole of 2012, two of which are in Asia, and the first Division One regional 50 over tournament in over two years.
With other regions seemingly still planning to play just Twenty20 at senior national team level, the Asian Cricket Council should be applauded for giving all their members a chance to play 50 over cricket.