UAE and Hong Kong progressed to the final of the Asia Cup Qualifiers after a thrilling finale to the league phase on Tuesday, 4 September.
Hong Kong saw off Nepal in a low-scoring encounter in Bangi in Malaysia, prevailing by three wickets after bundling Nepal out for 95.
Then, over in Kuala Lumpur, United Arab Emirates proved just about good enough for Oman as they sealed a 13-run victory.
The results meant UAE finished atop the table on eight points, with Hong Kong second, ahead of Oman on net run rate after finishing level on seven points.
UAE hold their nerves!— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) September 4, 2018
Shaiman Anwar picks up the last wicket and Oman are bowled out for 195 in 47.2 overs!
Aaqib Sulehri top scores with 45 for Oman #UAEvOMA#AsiaCupQualifiers#AsiaCup2018pic.twitter.com/9yaU2eJzMT
Captain Rohan Mustafa scored a 104-ball 71 from No.3 as UAE, after being asked to bat, posted 208/8. The importance of Mustafa’s knock was evident in the fact that the next highest score in the innings was the 24 scored by Ashfaq Ahmed, the opener.
Mustafa added brief partnerships, the highest among them being the 29 and 26 he put up with Muhammad Usman and Adnan Mufti for the fifth and sixth wickets respectively.
Oman, meanwhile, had contributions throughout the line-up. Aqib Ilyas’ 43-ball 45, comprising seven fours, kept them going, even Jatinder Singh (7) and Vaibhav Wategaonkar (17) were dismissed fairly quickly.
However, Khawar Ali (20), Ajay Lalcheta (22), Mohammad Nadeem (23) and Naseem Khushi (27) helped keep Oman in the hunt.
Despite Sandeep Lamichhane's 5-wicket haul (5/27), Hong Kong clinch their 3rd victory in the tournament.— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) September 4, 2018
Anshuman Rath leads from the front with a half century.
32.3 Over(S): Hong Kong 96/7, win by 3 wickets.#NEPvHK#AsiaCupQualifiers#AsiaCup2018pic.twitter.com/WZKvBJ4uZi
The wickets kept tumbling, though, with all of Mohammad Naveed, Amir Hayat and Mustafa picking up two wickets each.
It eventually proved the difference as they fell agonisingly short.
Elsewhere, Anshuman Rath, the captain, was the star for Hong Kong. His 82-ball 52 helped them negotiate a small chase that had gotten considerably tricky.
Nepal had opted to bat, but lost Subash Khakurel in the first ball of the match. It was a sign of things to come – five of their batsmen managed to get into double digits, but none of them could make it count.
Aarif Sheikh’s 53-ball 18 was the highest score of the innings, and it underlined Nepal’s inability to deal with the Hong Kong bowlers, all of whom were among the wickets. Eshan Khan, who returned 4/15, was the pick among them.
However, their bowlers did well to fight back. The excellent Sandeep Lamichhane was once again outstanding, running through much of the Hong Kong top order to return 5/27, comprising five of Hong Kong’s top six batsmen.
3 wickets in the last 2 overs seal the game for Singapore as they get their first win of the #AsiaCupQualifiers— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) September 4, 2018
Malaysia are bowled out for 247 in 49.5 overs
FULL SCORECARD▶️https://t.co/OgMbFO7S8s▶️ MATCH CENTRE #SINvMAL#AsiaCup2018
However, Rath put up brave resistance. He found the fence thrice and went over it once to keep his side in the chase, even as wickets fell in a flurry.
They were 40/3, but Rath's 31-run stand with Kinchit Shah helped them edge closer to the target before more wickets, including that of Rath, left them reeling at 87/7. However, Tanwir Afzal and Scott McKechnie helped see the chase through.
In the other encounter, Singapore held off Malaysia for an 29-run victory to get their first and only win of the tournament. Despite that, they finished at the bottom of the table, just below Malaysia.
At the Asia Cup, the winners of the qualifiers will take on India and Pakistan in the group stage – Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in the other group – with their first fixture lined up against Pakistan on 16 September.
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