By Shahzad Raza
MUSCAT: Saudi Arabia thrashed red-hot Qatar by 8 wickets in the final to be crowned ACC T20 Western Region Championship in an amazing turnaround in a dramatic single day at Amerat’s beautiful twin grounds on Thursday.
Consigned to the bottom of team standings along with winless Maldives a day earlier, Saudi Arabia had one foot on the flight to home when it came to play its last group game with only one win and two points out of three games it had played. To everyone’s surprise, it was a different team on Thursday. After bulldozing Kuwait in broad daylight earlier in the day, Saudis treated Qatar with similar disdain in the floodlit final at night, running away with the winner’s trophy that nobody believed was their’s before the dramatic Thursday.
While Kuwait was stunned by Faisal Khan’s unbelievable knock of 83 not out off only 28 balls in the morning, Qatar was left wondering on a chilled evening how to contain a rampaging Shamsudheen who smashed 8 fours and 6 sixes in his 48-ball 88 that entertained everyone present there to watch the final. He was rightly adjudged player of the match for his outstanding knock.
Arriving into the final as red hot favourite, undefeated Qatar was hit by misfortune and mistakes to rob it of a great start, After losing its captain Inamul Haq off the first ball to injury, Qatar watched in disbelief as its next three wickets fell to poor shots or a silly runout. By the start of the 7th over its batting stars Faisal Javed and Kamran Khan were joined by Mohammed Rizlan back in the dressing room with their team in recovery mode at 37 for 3. Taimoor Sajjad, adjudged player of the tournament for his brilliant all-round performances, came to the team’s rescue with a solid 68 off 38 but a total of 157 for 6 was clearly insufficient on an excellent pitch for batting. Noman Sarwar and Muhammed Tanveer batted well too, contributing 30 not out and 27 respectively to Qatar’s total.
Call it misfortune or a mistake but Qataris would rue this for a long time to come; dropping Shamsudheen in the first slip in the very first over. Nothing went in their favour after that as Shams and Faisal unleashed amazing strokeplay in their second wicket partnership of 77 runs in no time. By the time Faisal got out for 36 off only 15 balls, Saudi Arabia had already scored 105 runs in the 8th over. Shamsudheen kept the Qataris on a leather hunt for the rest of the night till the target was achieved and Saudi score reading 163 for 2 in only 15.3 overs.
Kanak Khimji, Chairman Oman Cricket, who was the chief guest, and Saleem Elyas, President of Bahrain Cricket, who was the guest of honor, distributed the prizes at the awards ceremony in the presence of senior OC management including Madhu Jesrani, Secretary OC, Duleep Mendis, CDO, and Iqbal Ariwala, CAO, along with OC Board members.
Brief scores: Qatar 157 for 6 in 20 overs (Taimoor Sajjad 68 – 5×4, 3×6, Noman Sarwar 30 not out – 1×4, 2×6, Muhammed Tanveer 27 – 4×4. Muhammed Nadeem 2-33) lost to Saudi Arabia 163 for 2 in 15.3 overs (Shamsudheen Purat 88 not out – 8×4, 6×6, Faisal Khan 36 – 4×4, 3×6.
Player of the match: Shamsudheen Purat (Saudi Arabia)
Player of the tournament: Taimoor Sajjad (Qatar).