Muscat: Singapore and Hong Kong secured a place in the final round of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup (CWC) Asia Qualifier on Thursday.
In the semifinals of the ICC U19 Men’s CWC Division 2- Asia Qualifier played at the Oman Cricket Academy (OCA) grounds in Al Amerat, Singapore and Hong Kong took contrasting routes to reach the final, which will be played at the OCA 1 ground on Friday.
Singapore registered a comprehensive 10-wicket victory over Bahrain at the OCA 2 ground while Hong Kong defeated Oman by three wickets in a hard-fought match at the OCA 1 ground.
The two finalists of Division 2 now join Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and UAE who are already granted a place in the final round of Asia Qualifier in 2023. The winner of the final round of Asia Qualifier will book a place in the ICC Men’s U19 World Cup in 2024.
It was a clinical all-round display by Singapore with the bowlers doing their job in style to bowl out Bahrain for a paltry score of 62.
Bahrain captain Aryan Ashwin’s decision to bat first after winning the toss backfired as they lost the first wicket in the ninth over with the total at 19.
Skipper Ashwin’s wicket dealt a blow to the team and they never recovered. Fellow opener Rishabh Ramesh was the next to depart three overs later for a 36-ball 19. It remained the top individual score with four boundaries to his credit.
Following’s Ramesh’s wicket, no Bahraini batter could reach into the double digits as the rival bowling attack dominated.
Medium pacer Adwitya Bhargava bagged three for 15 while skipper Jeevan Santhanam continued to impress with his left-arm spin to claim 2/13.
Right-arm leg-spinner Vihaan Hampihallikar proved difficult to negotiate as he ended with figures of 6-3-4-2.
All the six Singapore bowlers were among the wickets as the other three –Pranav Maheshwari, Venkatesan Thiyanesh and Aaryan Menon took a wicket each.
The target was a stroll in the park for the Singapore batters – Pratham Somani and Rahil Khan – as they raced to a comfortable ten-wicket win in just 12.3 overs. Somani remained unbeaten on 23 while Khan made 30.
Man of the match Adwitya Bhargava said: “We knew that this was a crunch match. It was a very important game being the semifinal. We decided as a team that we will stick to working on our plans.
“We stuck to the basics and carried the momentum we were carrying from the group stage. We are looking forward to a strong opposition, either Oman or Hong Kong, in the final and hope to showcase our best skills in the final."
Hard-fought victory for Hong Kong
At the OCA 1 ground, chasing 208 to win, Hong Kong batters paced their innings well to emerge winners in a thrilling and hard-fought match.
Despite the early dismissal of Daksh Mangkukia, leg before to Tanuj Shridevi, a solid 76-run stand between Jayden Botfield and Ansh Doshi (26) put them back in the game.
Oman’s Lakshmi Satish, who had earlier a good game with the bat, got the needed breakthrough when he sent back Botfield, who made a 54-ball 51, which comprised six boundaries and a six.
Doshi’s run out, five runs later, swung the pendulum in Oman’s favour but a crucial 39-run stand between Parth Bhagwat (23) and Abdul Samad Khan (41) turned the scales in favour of Hong Kong.
Bowling all-rounder Muhammad Mudassar Khan then starred with an important innings of 47.Along with Aryan Chandiramani the duo led the team to a thrilling win with three wickets in hand in the 48th over as they scored 212/7.
It was the counter-attack from Khan and Chandiramani that took the game away from the hosts. Khan’s 47-ball knock included two fours and two sixes while Chandirmani’s blitz saw him hit 16 off just six balls with a boundary and a maximum. It was Chandiramani’s winning hit, a boundary of the last ball of the 48th over,that ensured Hong Kong’s ticket in the final.
As many as eight bowlers were tried out by Oman captain Arjun Dhiman with Aditya Gurumukhi the most successful with 3/37 while Lakshmi Satish had figures of 2/24.
Earlier, electing to bat first, Oman had a cautious start with openers Lakshmi Satish and Devansh Loya putting on 25 in nine overs.
Loya was first to go and skipper Dhiman joined Satish to share a valuable 50-run stand.
Dhiman was adjudged leg before for 28 but Satish continued to build the innings as he was involved in another partnership with Gurumukhi (28).
In-form Aryan Bisht took over the charge after the duo’s departure and he hammered a 68-ball unbeaten 49 to lead Oman past 200-mark.
Glen Menezes’s useful 15 aided the final score as the hosts finished at 208/7.
Chandiramani and Bhagwat took two wicket each.
Man of the match Muhammad Mudassar Khan said: “I went into the game with a mindset that I will play my range of shots. Fortunately, it clicked. I wanted to stay till the end and I am happy that we won this tough semifinal.
“Looking forward to the final against Singapore tomorrow and hope to do well and win the final.”
Friday will also witness the playoff match for third place between Oman and Bahrain.