Singapore surprise Scots; Dutch beat Kenya; hosts defeated
The 2019 World T20 Qualifier got off to a sensational start today as Singapore - who beat Nepal in qualifying and Zimbabwe during their preparation - added Scotland to their list of scalps in the opening match.
It wasn't looking good for Singapore early on in their innings. Put in to bat by Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer at the ICC Academy ground, they quickly found themselves two down with just seven runs on the board and the danger man Tim David back in the dug out after Safyaan Sharif bowled him for just one.
But they showed that they're not just a one man team with Surendran Chandramohan, who scored 66 in Singapore's defeat against Zimbabwe, leading the way with 51 before he too was bowled by Sharif. Aritra Dutta also chipped in with 32 from just 15 balls as they scored 168-6 from their 20 overs.
It was a good recovery from 7-2, but Scotland would have still been expecting to chase it down, especially with the likes of George Munsey and Calum MacLeod in their batting line-up. And it was Munsey who got their chase off to a good start with 46 from 25 balls, putting on 70 in 7.4 overs for the opening wicket with Coetzer.
After Munsey's dismissal, Kyle Coetzer took over, eventually reaching 38 before he was the third man out. With MacLeod at the crease, Scotland looked to be cruising, but Singapore got themselves in with a shout with two wickets in the 16th over followed by another in the 18th to leave Scotland needing 19 from the last two overs with four wickets in hand.
The 19th over saw Scotland score 11 runs, leaving them with just 8 to get from the last. A dot ball to Sharif was followed by a single before Singapore took the key wicket of MacLeod, out for 44, from the third ball. Two runs from Sharif from the fourth ball was followed by him getting out from the fifth ball and Scotland needed five to win or four to force a Super Over.
But Josh Davey could only manage two before he was run out, sparking wild celebrations amongst the Singapore team as they completed a two run win. Group A had been blown wide open and it was only the first match.
The other Group A match of the day was between the Netherlands and Kenya at the same ground. The sides last met in a T20 match back in the 2013 qualifier, back in the days when Kenya still had ODI status. Kenya have obviously declined since then, so it was no surprise when they recorded a straightforward victory.
An innings of 53 by Max O'Dowd was the key for the Dutch, with the next best score being Ben Cooper's 36. Collins Obuya, who has now been playing for Kenya for a little over 19 years took two wickets for just 16 runs as the Dutch scored 166-4 from their 20 overs.
Left arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe may have bowled the first over for the Netherlands, but it was very much a pace dominated bowling attack, with Paul van Meekeren leading the way with 3-27 from his four overs. Obuya's 63 from 40 balls was the only performance of note with the bat for Kenya and they were restricted to 136-8, losing by 30 runs.
Over in Abu Dhabi, hosts UAE made their tournament bow under the lights against neighbours Oman. Some tight bowling and sharp fielding by the visitors restricted the home team to just 108-9 from their 20 overs, with Fayyaz Butt and Bilal Khan both taking three wickets.
Oman lost Khawar Ali for a duck early on in their reply, but otherwise had little trouble chasing down their target, winning by seven wickets with ten balls to spare. Aqib Ilyas top scored for them with 45, whilst Zeeshan Maqsood pulled a short ball to deep backward square to end the game with a six. That was the only six of the Oman innings, and the time taken to chase a low target may well count against them if net run rate is a factor come the business end of the group stages.
The tournament continues tomorrow with five matches across both groups. Keep an eye on the CricketEurope match centre for all the latest news and action, where Rod Lyall will have an over by over blog from Netherlands v Kenya and Barry Chambers will have ball by ball commentary from Ireland v UAE.