It was the closest match of the tournament by far, and saw Oman unable to score the eight runs needed to win from the final over.
Both teams won their groups, finished the tournament unbeaten and have now qualified for Division 1 where they will have a chance to reach the next U19 Cricket World Cup. In many ways, it was highly appropriate that the two teams should share the trophy.
The two teams also shared individual awards with Kuwait's Hamoud Amanullah being declared player of the match and their captain Nomaan Sidique being named best batsman of the tournament. For Oman, Kevin Kattokaran was awarded both the bowler of the tournament and the overall player of the tournament. Hong Kong won the third place play-off as they beat Qatar by 83 runs at AIT. Hong Kong scored 149 in 42.5 overs but bowled out their opponents for 66 in 24.1 overs.
Kuwait and Oman could already celebrate after claiming places in Division 1 of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier by reaching the final. Nevertheless, they each had one more ambition left from this competition and this was to lift the trophy. Both teams were unbeaten and both captains, Nomaan Sidique and Pratamesh Kumble, were confident after Kuwait had won the toss and elected to bat first.
Kuwait had been the only team able to bat through the full 50 overs in the competition, while Oman's spinners had always been able to bowl out the opposition for low scores with their batsmen familiar with chasing. Both teams had got what they wanted at the toss with Kuwait batting first, setting up an intriguing contest.
Kuwait have had a tried and trusted method when they have batted first in this tournament as they looked to build a solid foundation and become more positive in the second half of their innings. They had batted out the full 50 overs three times and won convincingly on each occasion.
Oman's bowling attack was probably the strongest in the tournament with a range of options. Tall seamer Yash Mehta shared the new ball with the captain Prathamesh Kumble bowling his off-breaks. Kuwait were tied down from the start and lost their first wicket in the tenth over as Gokul Kumar tried to break free and was caught at mid-on off Kumble. Nomaan Sidique joined Meet Bhavsar at the crease and each had played one match-winning innings in the tournament. Mehta's spell ended after he had bowled 7 overs for 9 runs but Kuwait would be looking to increase their tempo soon as they reached 25 for 1 after 15 overs.
The final was developing into an interesting tactical battle with Kuwait still finding runs hard to come by against some accurate bowling. Off-spinner Kumble bowled his 10 overs straight, and finished with 1/18 with two maidens. Second seamer Muzahir Raza was given a bowl and Adeel Abbas followed, with the two left-arm spinners so lethal in the semi-final yet to be introduced. Kevin Kattokaran finally came on to bowl the 22nd over but Kuwait's batsmen were beginning to look more comfortable. Nomaan hit the first boundary of the match in the next over and brought up the fifty with only one wicket down. Bhavsar played a nice sweep against the left-arm spinner and Kuwait were 54 for 1 at the halfway stage.
Oman appeared to have taken charge of the final as Kuwait's two premier batsmen and the two leading run-scorers in the tournament were out in quick succession. Nomaan was caught by opposing captain Kumble as he tried to take on the left-arm spin of Kattokaran who claimed his 14th wicket of the competition to move level with team-mate Sanjaya Ravindra. Nomaan was out for 15 from 45 balls and Bhavsar's vigil ended soon afterwards as he was lbw to Adeel Abbas for 18 from 89 balls as Oman's decision to bowl off-spin to the young left-hander worked well. Adeel took his second wicket as Abdul Sadiq was caught at mid-wicket and Kuwait were 61 for 4 after 30 overs.
Oman were now very much on top thanks to their left-arm spinner Kevin Kattokaran who bowled Govind Kumar with a beauty as Kuwait lost their fifth wicket on 63 and he followed with the wicket of Sanjeev Nair to leave the score on 71 for 6. Kattokaran has had an excellent tournament as he has taken three or more wickets no fewer than five times. All was not lost for Kuwait as Hamoud Amanullah, who scored 51 from 60 balls against Qatar, was still there along with Hamza Qureshi. Kuwait were 88 for 6 after 40 overs and needed a strong end to their innings to give them a chance of success in the final.
Kattokaran finished his impressive spell with figures of 10-1-20-3 to give him a remarkable aggregate of 16 wickets for just 71 runs in the tournament, and he then took a catch as the seventh wicket fell on 91. Kuwait gave their next wicket away with a run out after Aamir Ali had hit a nice boundary. What a luxury it was for Oman that they had player of the match from the semi-final Sanjaya Ravindra as their seventh bowler, and Amanpreet Sirah was also an effective option with his leg-spin.
With five overs left, Kuwait had already reached the highest total achieved against Oman. Opening bowled Yash Mehta was brought back and extras were now the biggest contributor. Oman may have been getting concerned as the ninth wicket stand was building and No. 10 Faez Qureshi hit the first six of the match off Ravindra. Hamoud smashed the ball towards cover but was caught by Azam Ali to end a useful innings of 23 from 55 balls. Faez Qureshi was last man out for 17 as he tried to hit over the extra-cover boundary with Ravindra taking the final wicket. Kuwait may well have been satisfied with their total of 131 in 49.2 overs as Oman would need to score their highest total of the tournament to win.
Kuwait's opening bowlers Hamza Qureshi and Sanjeev Nair had performed well in previous matches but the nature of the pitch at TCG was favouring spin bowling so their was a quick introduction of left-arm spinner Hamoud Amanullah and the captain Nomaan Sidique to bowl his off-spin. Oman's openers had contrasting styles as Adeel Abbas was in positive mood hitting a four and a six but Kevin Kattokaran used his long reach to defend and didn't score a run in the first 10 overs. Adeel was first out as he was caught by Abdul Sadiq off Hamoud for 19. Kattokaran had clearly just been taking his time and launched Nomaan for a massive straight six. Hamoud claimed his second wicket as Muzahir Raza was bowled for nought. Kuwait were still in the contest but Kattokaraa's eventful day with wickets, catches and runs was over as he was run out. Oman were 36 for 3 after 16 overs with a lot of work still to do.
Oman had moved to 47 for 3 after 20 overs still requiring 84 runs from 30 overs. Hamoud’s excellent spell ended at 8-2-15-2 and Oman brought up their fifty in the 23rd over and would have been hoping they could see off the main spin threat. Second string spinners Faez Qureshi and Abdul Sadiq also kept it tight and Nomaan switched ends as he was searching for a breakthrough with Azam Ali and Neeth Poojari content to occupy the crease.
In fact, it was the left-arm spin of Faez that claimed the fourth wicket as Azam Ali tried to cut and was caught at short third man. Oman were 56 for 4 in the 29th over and Poojari sensed his team were falling behind the rate and hit a boundary over mid-on. Kuwait were beginning to think they were on the way to victory such were their celebrations when Poojari was run out for 15. Oman were 66 for 5 after 30 overs, needing to double their score in the last 20 with half their wickets left.
Wicket-keeper Biju and captain Kumble were now playing much more positively and looking to hit boundaries to ease the pressure. Nomaan completed his 10 overs and conceded only 18 runs but when Aamir Ali bowled a full toss to Biju it was Nomaan who was there to take the catch at mid-wicket to leave Oman on 81 for 6. Kumble reached double figures and new man Amanpreet Sirah hit two boundaries over mid-on's head to push the field back. This match was still too close to call as Oman were 96 for 6 after 40 overs with 35 needed from the last 10 overs.
Oman's task in terms of runs per over was not a challenging one but the pressure of a final remained. Kumble was seventh out as he was caught by Hamoud off the bowling of Abdul Sadiq, and Sirah followed as he was caught on the mid-wicket boundary off Faez Qureshi to leave Oman on 103 for 8 in the 43rd over. The task was still by no means impossible but could the ninth wicket pair Yash Mehta and Jeel Tanna keep their heads? 22 were now needed from the final five overs.
Abdul Sadiq finished with figures of 1 for 29 in his 10 overs, and Hamoud recorded figures of 2 for 21. Four spinners had bowled their full quotas so here came Sanjeev Nair's medium pace with 15 needed from 3 overs. Back to spin with Amir Ali as 12 runs were needed from 2 overs. A full toss only went for a single, then three dots as his control improved, but a misfield helped to bring three.
Eight runs were needed from the last over. A single from the first ball and the second, then a pair of twos to Yash Mehta. Scores were level thanks to a scrambled bye from the fifth ball. Tanna couldn’t pierce the field from the last ball and was run out so Oman finished on 131 for 9 from their 50 overs as the match was tied and the trophy shared. Both Kuwait and Oman could celebrate success as they will meet again in Malaysia in April 2019, when six teams will compete for one place in the ICC UI9 Cricket World Cup that will be played in South Africa in 2020.
The third place play-off was contested by the two losing semi-finalists, Hong Kong and Qatar, at AIT. Hong Kong were put into bat and were bowled out for 149 in 42.5 overs as Kalhan Challu hit four attractive boundaries early on before being run out. Mehran Zeb reached 34 from 63 balls and Daniyal Butt hit two fours and two sixes in his 22. Shubh Agarwal had bowled well throughout the tournament and finished with 2 for 34, but Solaiman Mohammad had the best figures with 3 for 32.
Qatar started their innings before lunch and were 18 for 2 from 8 overs at the break. Hong Kong kept up the pressure in the field and Qatar were never in the hunt as only Saud Kamal reached double figures. Mohammad Hassan took 3 for 7 with his left-arm spin but it was Vikas Sharma who was named player of the match for his figures of 4 for 16. Qatar were bowled out for 66 in 24.1 overs giving Hong Kong victory in the third place play-off by 83 runs.
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