Oman and Kuwait have booked their places in the finals of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Asia Division 2 qualifiers after winning their respective last-four clashes on Sunday.
Oman, winners of Group A, faced Hong Kong, runners-up in Group B, at AIT, while Kuwait, winners of Group B, played against Qatar, runners-up in Group B at Terdthai Cricket Ground and it was Oman and Kuwait who took the honours.
Oman’s array of spinners were too much for Hong Kong as they bowled them out for 100 to win by 30 runs, while Kuwait’s captain Nomaan Sidique had the day of his life as he scored a heroic unbeaten 89 and followed that with figures of 5/23 as his team beat Qatar by 107 runs.
The two unbeaten teams in the tournament, Oman and Kuwait, winners of Group A and Group B respectively, will now meet in Monday’s final at TCG.
Hong Kong won the toss and elected to field against Oman and they chose to start with the left-arm spin of Mohammad Hassan but it was a change of bowling that immediately brought success. Nasrulla Rana had taken six wickets in the group stages and he struck in his first over as pinpoint yorkers twice crashed into the stumps.
Oman, who had won all four of their matches suddenly looked in trouble at 9/2 in the fifth over, although they reached 22 after 10 overs without further loss and looked well placed on 57/3 at the 20-over mark. Nasrulla had taken his third wicket when he came back for a second spell and it was the third time he had taken three wickets in an innings in the tournament.
Hong Kong gradually began to take control as Oman's opener, Aqeel Abbas, finally lost patience to be out caught sweeping for 30 and Azam Ali lofted a boundary off Mohammad Hassan only to be caught at cover shortly afterwards to leave Oman on 88/5 in the 28th over.
With ten overs left, Oman were struggling at 115/7, with the medium pace of Vikas Sharma and Dhananjay Rao backing up Nasrulla Rana who had taken three wickets earlier in the day. Dhananjay Rao took his second wicket and Mohammad Hassan bowled Amanpreet Sirah as the ninth wicket fell with the score on 118. Left-arm spinner Hassan finished his ten overs with figures of 2/18 and Nasrulla Rana returned looking to take the final wicket.
Oman's last pair managed to add some crucial runs but Vikas Sharma claimed the last wicket as Oman were bowled out for 130 in 46.3 overs. Nasrullah Rana had the best figures with 3/25.
In reply, Hong Kong were reduced to 14/2 after six overs. Dhananjay Rao and Mehran Zeb did well to steady the innings as Kattokaran finished his spell with 2/13 in six overs.
Hong Kong's third-wicket partnership did their best to be positive against the spinners as Dhananjay Rao hit three fours and Mehran Zeb two fours and a six, but Amanpreet Sirah broke the partnership as Zeb fell lbw and after looking well-placed on 45/2 Hong Kong declined to 46/5 as the second left-arm spinner Sanjaya Ravindra took two wickets to take him to 12 wickets in the tournament.
Hong Kong continued to try to hit their way out of trouble, but they eventually got bundled out for 100 as Oman defended their total of 130 to win by 30 runs.
In the other semi-final, Kuwait chose to bat first against Qatar and they are the only team to bat out 50 overs so far in this competition. Although they had lost an early wicket Kuwait were 25/1 after 10 overs with Meet Bhavsar and Nomaan Sidique, two high class young players, at the crease.
Kuwait reached 47/3 after 20 overs as they lost the wicket of opener Bhavsar for ten before Abdul Sadiq was dismissed for five to come down to four wickets at the halfway stage.
Kuwait's captain Nomaan Sidique was intent on seeing his side through to 50 overs as he has looked very secure and still able to find the boundary when given the opportunity.
Nomaan completed a composed half-century as he reached the milestone from 115 balls with six boundaries and he brought his team to 108/4 after 40 overs, a position from which they would still hope to make a match-winning total.
Kuwait batted with great diligence for the first 40 overs with the captain at the helm. Nomaan finished unbeaten on 89 from 145 balls with ten fours and he was given perfect support by Hamoud Amanullah who played himself in before unleashing a range of attacking shots to reach 51 from 60 balls hitting three fours and two sixes. No team had got anywhere near 200 in any of the matches in Bangkok so, exhausted as he looked, Nomaan should have been very pleased with his marathon effort.
Qatar would need to bat extremely well to challenge Kuwait's total of 202/6 and they looked to be progressing well as they reached 46 with only one wicket down. Not content to rest on his laurels after playing a wonderful innings, Nomaan Sidique was soon in the action again this time with the ball.
The Kuwait skipper claimed five out of the first eight wickets to fall. Kuwait eventually reached the final as they defeated Qatar by 107 runs as Qatar were dismissed for 95.
Oman and Kuwait have now also qualified for ICC U19 CWC Division 1- Asia where six teams will compete for a place at the next ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa in 2020.