Muscat – Oman defeated Saudi Arabia to march into the semifinals of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division -2 Asia Qualifiers on Saturday.
At the Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) grounds, the hosts won by six wickets for their second straight victory in Group A.
Bahrain also entered the last four from the group after beating Bhutan by 169 runs.
At the OCA 2 ground, Oman skipper Arjun Dhiman elected to bowl first after winning the toss and his bowlers justified the decision as Saudi Arabia batters were left struggling against some tidy bowling. Saudi openers were back in the hut in five overs with the team’s total only 13.
Sashwath Prasad and Zuhair then did some repair work as they shared a 34-run third wicket partnership. Following Prasad’s departure, there were no big partnerships as Oman spinners put a firm stranglehold. Zuher top-scored with a sedate 29 off 70 deliveries.
Aryan Bisht mesmerizing spell of 4/19, including a maiden, had the Saudi batters in all sorts of trouble. Bisht was supported by medium pacer Mohammed Arafat Islam who picked up two early wickets. Glenalexei Menezes, the left-arm spinner, claimed 2/14 as Saudi Arabia were bowled out for 103 in 37.3 overs. A sizeable contribution in Saudi total came from extras with Oman conceding 21 including 20 wides.
With a modest target, Oman lost an early wicket in the seventh over when Lakshmi Satish departed for seven. Though Oman lost couple more wickets, they were never in trouble as they chased down the target in 27 overs scoring 104/4.
Skipper Arjun Dhiman top-scored with 32 while Aditya Gurumukhi (23 n.o.), Devansh Loya (16) and Aryan Bisht (13) were the other run-getters.
“It was a positive approach by everyone in the team. It’s quite impressive to have performed collectively in both the games,” said Aryan Bisht who was adjudged the man of the match.
“The wicket was spin-friendly and we stuck to a plan to reap the rewards. I hope we keep this winning momentum.
“It’s great feeling to have contributed to the team’s victory and I am looking forward to more such opportunities ahead.”
In the other match, at the OCA 1 ground, captain Aryan Ashwin led Bahrain to a comfortable victory over Bhutan. Batting first, Ashwin slammed a solid half-century (56 off 95 balls) to lay the foundation of a good score as Bahrain batters relished the rival attack.
With the middle-order batters – Rishabh Ramesh (28), Aaryan Koul (36) and Muhammad Ali (30) – making handy contributions, Bahrain consolidated their strong start. A late flurry of strokes by lower-order duo of Abhinav Girish (27) and Vishwaesh Gurumurthy (28) saw the team end their innings at 244/9.
The target was always going to be a challenge for Bhutan as they lost quick wickets to be 25/5 at the end of 21st over. Some late contributions by Karma Dorji (18) and Tashi Chophel (14) took the team past the 50-mark as the team was bowled out for 75 in 33.1 overs.
Shashank Shukla was the wrecker-in-chief with 4/25 while Nadith Tennakoon bagged 3/23. Muhammad Ali was economical and effective with 2/8 in his five overs.
Both Oman and Bahrain have four points each after two successive wins and their clash on Monday will decide the Group A topper. Saudi Arabia will take on Bhutan on the same day to complete their group engagements before flying back.
On Sunday, Thailand will take on Singapore while Hong Kong will meet Qatar in Group B matches. Both Hong Kong and Singapore have won their opening round matches and a win on Sunday will assure themselves of a place in the semifinals.