Hosts Oman defeated Bahrain by a margin of 86 runs to emerge as Group A topper in the ongoing ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division -2 Asia Qualifier at the Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) grounds on Monday.
The win meant Oman will take on the loser of the Group B match between Singapore and Hong Kong in the semifinals, scheduled on Thursday.
The Group B topper [winner of Singapore vs Hong Kong] will be decided on Tuesday. Bahrain will take on the Group B winner in the other semifinal.
It was a clinical all-round performance by the hosts despite the team failing to capitalise on the strong start as they were bowled out for 178 in 48.5 overs.
Openers Lakshmi Satish and Devansh Loya gelled well for the first time in the tournament as they shared a 61-run stand after Oman skipper Arjun Dhiman won the toss and elected to bat first at OCA 2 ground. Loya was first to depart for 29 and Satish (31) was next as Oman reached 84/2 in 25.3 overs. However, a double-strike by Bahrain’s Nadith Tennakoon put the hosts on the back foot in the 26th over as he prized the wicket of in-form Dhiman off the last ball of the over.
Aryan Bisht, who had already scored a half-century (60) in the opening group game against Bhutan, then played another solid knock as he remained unbeaten on 48 off 55 balls. Bisht was resolute but found little support at the other end as Oman was restricted to 178.
Tennakoon and Muhammad Adil Khan were the most successful bowlers with four wickets each.
Bahrain had a disappointing start as medium pacer Mohammed Arafat Islam struck a double blow as he dismissed skipper Aryan Ashwin and Ananth Krishnan Natesan off successive deliveries. Both the batters were snared behind by Rahil Habibulla, who had a good day behind as he later had one stumping to his name.
The early setback pushed Bahrain in a shell and the middle order caved in as they were left tottering at 28/5 in 15th over. Muhammad Adil Khan and Aryan Pande tried to fight back with a sixth-wicket stand of 34 but once Adil Khan departed, bowled by Satish for 22, the writing was on the wall. The tail failed to wag as Bahrain was bowled out for 92 in 34.3 overs.
Bisht followed his batting heroics with a tidy spell of 2/14 to be adjudged the Player of the match.
Dhiman, Arafat Islam also had two wickets each while Glenalexei Menezes and Satish took one each.
Aryan Bisht, Player of the match said: “I think we were always in the game. We had a decent start although we lost wickets in the middle. We couldn't convert it to something big but I'm happy the way I contributed in terms of holding the ship and I am enjoying the role of batting under pressure.
“We always believed in our bowling attack. They have the ability to bowl out the rival team. They executed the same today. Overall, it was a collective effort. We are looking forward to the semifinals and are happy going in with the momentum we have.”
Ahmed Raza’s dazzling spell
In the other game of the day at the OCA 1 ground, Muhammed Ahmed Raza came up with a dream spell of 7/20 to lead Saudi Arabia to a five-wicket win over Bhutan for a consolation win.
It was Saudi Arabia’s first win in the tournament. Both Bhutan and Saudi Arabia were already out of reckoning for a place in the knockout stage.
Bhutan won the toss but failed to put up a respectable total as Raza ripped through the top order dismissing the top four batters to leave the rivals struggling at 21/4 in nine overs.
Sashwath Prasad picked two in between but Raza’s rampage continued as he picked three more wickets as Bhutan faced the ignominy of getting bowled out for less than 50 with the total 38/9 in 15 overs.
However, a gritty last-wicket partnership of 35 runs between Karma Dorji (16) and Rigser Namgyel (10) helped Bhutan reach 73 before Zuhair had Dorji out to end the innings in 27 overs.
Saudi Arabia chased down the target in 21.3 overs with opening batter Khaja Farhaan Uddin top-scoring with a 33-ball 32. There was a slight wobble in the middle when they lost two batters in a space of five balls for two runs.
Muhammad Ghayour’s six got the Saudis a comfortable win in 21.3 overs.
Tashi Chophel took two wickets while the other three were shared apiece by Anand Mongar, Tashi Dorji and Tenjin Rabgey.