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Afghanistan dents UAE's pride

HYDERABAD, JAN. 13. Afghanistan pricked the pride of United Arab Emirates, the favourite, as it notched up a thrilling four-run win in a Group `B' league match of the Asia Cup under-17 cricket tournament at HMWSSB Grounds (Amberpet) here today.

In another contest, Oman recorded a convincing 73-run victory over Kuwait at Gymkhana Grounds.

The Afghan camp was full of enthusiasm when it was batting. Almost all the Afghan batsmen were keen on despatching the ball to the fence the moment it was pitched up. Mohd. Karim (53, 75b, 5x4), who top scored, and Hamed (31, 43b, 4x4) played with a carefree attitude and showed a liking for the on-side.

The way the Afghans approached the contest must have pleased the few cricket lovers who turned up even as coach Taj Malik resembled a school headmaster (with a stick in his hand), sending out messages frequently.

Afghanistan's hopes of a big total were dashed by some good fielding from the UAE team which took three excellent catches. UAE's S. Dharmasena (three for 26) was the pick of the bowlers and was well supported by S.M. Fahad (two for 24) as Afghanistan was dismissed for 157 in 41.2 overs.

In reply, UAE was rocked by the Afghan medium-pacers Hameed (two for 35) and Najeeb (two for 23), and slow bowler Mohd. Azghar (three for 28), all striking blows at regular intervals. The Afghans kept their nerve when S.M. Fawad (38, 51b, 3x4) posed a serious threat.

In the last over, UAE needed seven runs with two wickets in hand. But Owais Hamed and Saeed Hamed were bowled by Hamed to trigger off wild celebrations among the Afghans.

In the Oman-Kuwait tie, there were 70 extras, including 60 wides bowled by Kuwait. However, its medium-pacer Melanious D'Souza had figures of five for 42, an effort which went in vain.

Bahrain, Singapore win

At Bangalore, it was a tale of runs and ruins in the Group `C' preliminary round games.

Bahrain scored 213 for five in 45 overs and restricted Thailand to 177 for five at the Jain International Residential School (JIRS) Ground while Singapore registered a nine-wicket victory after Iran collapsed to 31 in 14.3 overs at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Bahrain, bolstered by expatriate players, enjoyed a smooth start as openers Angad Singh and David Mathias shared a 74-run partnership. Southpaw Gayan DeSilva's 72 (68b, 10x4, 1x6) then consolidated Bahrain's position. The innings, however, failed to achieve the necessary momentum in the last 10 overs as just 36 runs were scored for the loss of three wickets.

Thailand stumbled in its chase as the top three batsmen were dismissed with just 61 on the board. A 69-run fourth-wicket partnership between Nishad Rego and Sahan Ranamukherjee stabilised the innings, but a slow run rate saw Thailand finish 36 runs adrift in the stipulated overs.

Iran's batting was in a shambles after openers Z.N. Vakeel and M.H. Koolarzadeh succumbed to seamer D. Mayank.

Manoj, Shoaib shine

In Chennai, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia posted victories in the opening Group `D' preliminary round encounters.

At the SICAL-Viveka ground, Hong Kong, opting to bat, was restricted to 175 despite southpaw Daniel Fullgrabe's 60 (70b, 7x4). For Bhutan, skipper Manoj Adhikari took five wickets with his off-spin and medium-pacer Karma two.

But the Bhutan batsmen crumbled like a pack of cards and were bowled out for 33 — 21 courtesy extras — and conceded a bonus point.At the Chidambaram Stadium, an opening-wicket stand of 78 between Shoaib Ali (71 not out, 71b, 5x4) and Danish Farooq (41) enabled Saudi Arabia record a win with a bonus point against Maldives.

Nepal begins with win

At Visakhapatnam, Nepal scored a four-wicket win over Malaysia in a Group `A' preliminary round match at the ACA-VDCA Stadium here on Tuesday.

Opener Mahesh Chhetri scored a half-century (54, 75b, 5x4) and added 98 in 18.4 overs with captain Paras Khadka for the third wicket as Nepal overhauled Malaysia's total of 137 in just 28.2 overs.

The scores:

At Hyderabad: Afghanistan 157 in 41.2 overs (Mohd. Karim 53, Hamed 31, S. Dharmasena three for 26) beat UAE 153 in 45 overs (S.M. Fawad 38, Mohd. Azghar three for 28).

Oman 257 for eight in 45 overs (Vivek Venkatram 59, Vignesh Shenoy 31, Hassan Mehndi 53, Melanious D'Souza five for 42) beat Kuwait 184 in 39.4 overs (Pratish Rajpal 38, Nasser Shoukat 33).

At Bangalore: Bahrain 213 for five in 45 overs (Gayan DeSilva 72, David Mathias 31, Angad Singh 30) beat Thailand 177 for five in 45 overs (Nishad Rego 45, Sahan Ranamukherjee 39 not out).

Iran 31 in 14.3 overs (D. Mayank seven for 14) lost to Singapore 33 for one in 3.3 overs.

At Chennai: Hong Kong 175 in 34.5 overs (Irfan Ahmed 28, Daniel Fullgrabe 60, Nadeem Ahmed 28, Manoj Adhikari five for 29) beat Bhutan 33 in 17.5 overs (Nadeem Ahmed four for 11, Irfan Ahmed four for three).

Maldives 128 in 38.5 overs (Mohmed Mahafooz 26, Lohit three for 18, Fahd Masood three for 26) lost to Saudi Arabia 129 for four in 28.3 overs (Shoaib Ali 71 not out, Danish Farooq 41).

At Visakhapatnam: Malaysia 137 for nine in 45 overs (Mohammad Fadli B. Hasim 27, Irfan Siddiqui three for 29) lost to Nepal 139 for six in 28.2 overs (Mahesh Chhetri 54, Paras Khadka 47 not out).

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