Bhavsar, Patel lay the foundation for the entertaining chase; Qatar finish third.
Kuwait picked themselves up commendably and clinched the grudge match against Saudi Arabia by four wickets with a thrilling chase in the sixth and last game of the Asia Sub Regional Qualifier A on Thursday.
The victory, in which Meet Bhavsar and Usman Patel raised the tempo, was secured with 10 balls to spare, helping Kuwait qualify for the ICC Men’s World Cup Asia Regional Qualifier, to be staged by Nepal from October 30 to November 5.
The champions will be clubbed in Group B along side Hong Kong, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, while Group A has Malaysia, Oman, Singapore and hosts Nepal.
The last winner-take-all fixture of the double round-robin contest was replete with fluctuating fortunes and Kuwait, who had lost the previous league game to Saudi Arabia, hit back through a remarkable pursuit and came home rather easily.
Kuwait lost opener Ravija Sandaruwan and Clinton Anto. But Bhavsar and Patel joined hands to take the team through the crisis. Their big hitting kept them much ahead of the required run rate – they were 95 for two in 8 overs, while Saudi Arabia took 10 overs to get 95 for 1.
The difference proved vital in the end as Kuwait sealed the triumph in 18.2 overs with Sayed Monib hitting a six and four in his unbeaten 12.
Earlier, Zain Ul Abidin and skipper Hisham Sheikh sprang surprises to dismiss well-set Bhavsar and Patel in quick succession, taking catches off their own bowling. Later Kuwait captain Mohammad Aslam also lifted the ball unnecessarily to be out for 23-ball 34 with three fours and a six.
Bhavsar had to go when Abidin lunged to his left to pick a brilliant catch, ending an 82-run stand with Patel. Bhavsar’s 27-ball 55 had three sixes and five fours.
Four runs later at 111, Patel, who smashed three sixes and one four to get 43 in 28 deliveries, was removed by Sheikh. However, Aslam worked the ball well to keep the team on the track to the win, which was eventually realized by Monib, triggering a big celebration by the Kuwaiti players by rushing to the ground and lifting the players.
Kuwait skipper Aslam heaped praise on his players for the resurgence. “We wanted to show that we are a better side and we proved it eventually as well. The match was full of surprises but we controlled the flow and were able to finish on the top.
“We are delighted to have qualified for the Asia Regional Final and we hope to do well there too,” Aslam said.
Bhavsar was excited with two awards – the Player of the Match and the Player of the Series. He said: “I’m glad that I could contribute to the team’s cause. Yeah…I’m thrilled to win the Player of the Series award.
“It is quite special to start the innings with Ravija (Sandaruwan). He takes the pressure off me and I also try to do the same. This helps me anchor the innings. We corrected our mistakes during the defeat to Saudi and replied to the challenge quite strongly today,” Bhavsar, who hit three fifties and won three best player of the match award, said.
Sheikh was a bit upset at the lost opportunity. He commented after the match: “Despite the loss, we’re happy with the way we came back in this event, especially after a poor Gulf Trophy T20 show. We are working hard and trying to get to where we want.
“The experience of the Kuwait team helped them. Their batting is very strong. We have learnt a lot in this tournament and will use it to get better results in future,” Sheikh added.
Qatar take third place
Though a bit too late, Qatar finished the event with a flourish, posting a dominant 42-run victory over Maldives after running up a massive 201 for seven wickets.
This was the second win in six matches for the hosts, who finished third in the four-team competition, while Maldives lost all the six fixtures.
Saqlain Arshad and Imal Liyanage were in an aggressive mood and flayed the Maldives bowling, reeling off 72 runs in seven overs. Saudi captain Umar Adam secured the breakthrough as he got Arshad caught by Wedage Malinda, who had been outstanding as he held for more catches and got a player run out too.
Later, experienced Muhammad Tanveer bludgeoned 52 and Jassim Khan got 30 in 13 balls to push Qatar past the 200-mark. Tanveer smashed four sixes and as many fours in his 23-ball cameo. Khan cracked three sixes and a four in his knock. Adam finished with for for 49. Leem Shafeeg, Ameel Mauroof, Ibrahim Rizan and Ibrahim Nashath all got a wixket each.
The Maldives’ reply revolved around skipper Adam, who posted 56 in 29 balls with four sixes and as many fours. He and Ibrahim Hassan were involved in a fine 68-run partnership for the first wicket in which Hassan contributed only 6.
After the departure of Adam, Shaof Hassan (21 with three sixes) and Mohamed Rishwan ( 23 with a six and two fours) resisted briefly before Qatar shot them out for 159 in18 overs. Himandhu Rathod (four for 29) and Muhammad Jabri took seven wickets between them. Muhammad Murad and Bukhari Illikkal shared other two.
Qatar 201 for 7 (Saqlain Arshad 45, Italy Liyanage 39, Muhammad Tanveer 52, Jassim Khan 30; Umar Adam 2/49) beat Maldives 159 all out in 17.2 overs (Umar Adam 56, Shaof Hassan 21, Mohamed Rishwan 23; Muhammad Jabir 3/35, Himanshu Rathod 4/29) by 42 runs
Player of the match: Muhammad Tanveer (Qatar)
Kuwait 175 for 6 in 18.2 overs (Meet Bhavsar 55, Usman Patel 43, Mohammad Aslam 34; Zain Ul Abid in 2/23) beat Saudi Arabia 173 for 4 (Abdul Waheed 83, Faisal Khan 22, Waqar Al Hassan 44; Sayed Monib 2/29) by four wickets
Player of the match: Meet Bhavsar (Kuwait)
Player of the series: Meet Bhavsar (Kuwait)
ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Sub Regional Asia Qualifier A
Source : ICC Cricket