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Singapore’s bowlers lead it to ACC League title

It was a one-man show from Irfan in Kuwait’s victory over Saudi Arabia; Bahrain trumps Bhutan by 172 runs

Singapore’s bowlers lead it to ACC League title - Cricket News
Singapore defeated Maldives by eight wickets to top the table and win the Asian Cricket Council Elite League 2014.
Singapore’s bowlers, led by Mulewa Dharmichand, the off-spinner, and Abhiraj Singh, the left-arm spinner, bowled Maldives out for 73 in 27 overs, before the batsmen chased the target down in 6.3 overs, with eight wickets in hand, to win the Asian Cricket Council Elite League 2014 in Singapore on Friday (June 13).
 
Dharmichand (3 for 3 in four overs) and Abhiraj (3 for 21 in eight overs) validated the decision of Saad Januja, their captain, to field first at the Padang. Maldives had largely struggled with the bat in the tournament and that pattern continued on Friday, with just three of its batsmen reaching double figures. Shafraz Jaleel’s 22 was the highest score, while a 23-run second-wicket stand between Ahmed Hassan (17) and Mohamed Azzam (11), the wicketkeeper, was the highest partnership of the innings.
 
Singapore’s bowlers hunted in a pack, with Dharmichand and Abhiraj finding plenty of support from Saad Januja, who took 2 for 11 in four overs, and Amjad Mahboob and Chetan Suryawanshi, who opened the bowling for Singapore and accounted for a wicket each.
 
Singapore’s openers got off to a brisk start. Chaminda Ruwan was the first to depart, when he was caught behind off Ibrahim Hassan for 12. But that did not deter Singapore from scoring quickly, as Arjun Mutreja (30 off 19 balls) and Suryawanshi (29 not out off 12 balls) came together for a second-wicket stand worth 55 off just 27 balls to take their team closer to the target.
 
The win meant Singapore was on a par with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, at eight points. But, a superior net run rate meant it finished on top of the table and took home the title. 
 
Kuwait romp to win
 
At the Kallang Ground, opener Mohammed Irfan’s blistering unbeaten century helped Kuwait chase down 206 against Saudi Arabia in just 24.4 overs, with five wickets in hand.
 
Irfan scored 129 not out off just 68 balls, smashing 13 boundaries and nine sixes. With Mohammad Amin’s 26 being the next highest score, it was a one-man show all along. Even as wickets fell around him at regular intervals, Irfan managed to maintain an impressive strike rate, as Kuwait easily romped home.
 
Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s batsmen struggled to get going after being put in to bat. At 33 for 5, even the three-figure mark looked improbable. Captain Afzal Saleem and Mohammad Abdullah then led the recovery with a 91-run sixth wicket stand in 162 balls. Abdullah was the first to fall, as he was caught off Abdullah Akhunzada’s leg-spin bowling for a 98-ball 31. Akhunzada removed Saleem in the very next over, when he had him stumped for 59.
 
Mohammad Nadeem (56 not out off 34 balls) and Akram Aslam (15 not out) then continued Saudi Arabia’s fightback with an unbroken 75-run stand to take their team to a respectable 205 for 7 after the match was reduced to 47 overs a side.
 
Saad Khalid, the right-arm pacer, took three wickets, but was a touch expensive, giving away 50 in his nine overs. Mohammed Faizan Ali, who opened the bowling, took 2 for 26, but it was Akhunzada’s legbreaks that stood out, as they fetched him 2 for 17 in ten overs.
 
The defeat meant that Saudi Arabia lost an opportunity to finish on top of the table, as it was stuck at eight points, while it helped Kuwait, also with eight points, finish at a respectable third spot.  
 
All-round show from Bahrain
 
Over at the Indian Association Ground, Bhutan’s decision to field first backfired, as Bahrain posted an imposing 317 for 8 in their 50 overs. The bowlers complemented that effort, bowling the opposition out for 145 in 42.2 overs to hand Bahrain its first win – they won by 172 runs – in the tournament.
 
Bahrain rode on the back of an 84-ball 88 from opener Janaka Chaturanga. Chaturanga featured in two important partnerships, first putting on 54 for the opening wicket with Adnan Butt (27) in 8.3 overs. After Butt was trapped in front by Jigme Singye, the Bhutan captain, Mirza Baig joined Chaturanga for a 108-run stand off 96 balls. Following Chaturanga’s dismissal in the 25th overs, Baig carried on with a 68-run fourth wicket stand in 59 balls with Mirza Yaqoob (41 off 38 balls). A strong finish from the tail ensured Bahrain ended on a high.
 
Singye’s ten overs, which fetched him 3 for 53, made him the pick of the Bhutan bowlers.
 
Bhutan never got going during the chase. Singye fought hard with the bat with a 70-ball 42 and added 55 for the third wicket with Sonam Tobgay (22). Phuntsho Wangdi came up with a cameo of 35 off 34 balls, but that was it as far as contributions of note are concerned.
 
Junaid Niazi was the pick of the bowlers for Bahrian, returning figures of 3 for 33 in ten overs. Huzaifa Akram took 2 for 30 in his quota, while Adil Hanif’s ten overs fetched him 2 for 44.
 
Bahrain finished with 2 points, while Bhutan ended its campaign without a single win. 

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