Hosts Kuwait faced UAE at the Doha ground and invited UAE to bat first after winning the toss. UAE openers started brilliantly and put up a 63-run partnership in just 5.1 overs. Chirag Suri continued to dominate as he scored a brilliant 86 in 52 balls. He was supported well by opener Ashfaq Ahmed (36 from 20 balls) and skipper Rohan Mustafa (31 from 27 balls). UAE finished strongly as Mohammad Usman scored 26 of 10 balls in the last couple of overs, to post a total of 201 in the allotted 20 overs.
In reply, Kuwait lost two early wickets but Mohammad Asghar and Yaser Idrees kept them in the hunt with a 42-run partnership. However both the batsmen were out in quick succession, picked up by Mustafa. Kuwait were 58/5 in 9.1 overs and continued to lose wickets. They reached a total of 115/8 in 20 overs. Skipper Kashif Sharif scored 33 runs. Mustafa and Mohammad Naveed picked up three wickets each. Suri was declared Player of the Match for his emphatic 86 runs as UAE reached the payoffs topping the table.
UAE captain Rohan Mustafa said, "We are pleased to win all five games and be on the top of the table, but the big game is tomorrow and we expect to finish strongly. It is a good sign that the openers are back in form for us.”
At the SCG, Qatar faced Bahrain and decided to field after winning the toss. Qatar pegged back Bahrain by picking up wickets regularly. Bahrain were 49/4 in 11.1 overs. A cameo by Bilal Mansoor, who smashed 20 in five balls, helped Bahrain post a total of 112/8 in 20 overs. Awais Malik picked up 3/23 in his four overs.
Qatar looked comfortable chasing the target of 113 as they were 42/2 in four overs. Kamran Khan (16 off 15 balls) and Zaheer Ibrahim (22 off 17 balls) had a crucial 37-run partnership as Qatar were 79/4 in 9.2 overs. Qatar lost their fifth wicket soon after to allow Bahrain back into the game at 81/5. They were cautious thereafter and reached the target in 16.4 overs and no further wickets lost. Player of the Match Zaheer Ibrahim scored 43 not out in 37 balls.
Qatar captain Inam Ul Haq said, “We are pleased with our performance so far and are enjoying the tournament. We look forward to performing well on the big day tomorrow.”
In the afternoon match at the SCG Saudi Arabia won the toss and elected to bat against Maldives. Saudi Arabia started briskly scoring 33 runs in first four overs for the loss of one wicket. Maldives responded strongly by picking up four middle-order wickets in 45 runs to put the brakes on Saudi Arabia at 79/5 in 13 overs. The lower middle order turned up and put up a partnership of 45 runs in five overs to take the Saudi total to 136/6 in the 18th over. They posted a good total of 154 runs in 20 overs. Shahbaz Rasheed was the top scorer with 38 in 21 balls.
Maldives lost two early wickets, but MNR Cooray showed good resilience to score 47 runs and propel the Maldives innings to 119 for 9. Player of the Match Mohammed Afzal took three wickets and scored 23 runs for Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain and Maldives could not qualify for the playoff round for the third qualification spots. Bahrain captain said, “The team tried their best but fell short of qualification. The Bahrain squad enjoyed the tournament and shall be better prepared next time.”
UAE and Qatar have now secured their places to play the ICC World Twenty20 Asia Finals while the winning team between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will take the third spot. UAE face Qatar and Saudi Arabia face Kuwait on 27 April.
For results, live scores and information on the ICC World Twenty20 Asia Qualifier ‘A’ please go to: https://www.icc-cricket.com/world-t20/qualifier-asia-fixtures/