Thailand vs. Nepal
96, 85, 77, and 66: Thailand’s returns with the bat have gotten progressively worse with every outing in what has been a forgettable tournament for the hosts.
They chose to bat first upon winning the toss and it was a familiar story once again against Nepal: a slow Powerplay (13/2), 5 maidens played out, and wickets at regular intervals. Henno Jordaan (13 off 29) and wicketkeeper-batsman Phiriyapong Suanchuai (13*) were the only batsmen to reach double figures during a sleep-inducing batting effort that gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “dead rubber.”
Nepal made one change heading into this contest with Bhuvan Karki replacing fellow left-arm spinner Sushan Bhari. Karki showed no signs of rust, suffocating a hapless Thailand with figures of 4-1-6-1 to back up a tight opening burst by Sandeep Lamichanne, who begun with two consecutive maidens to put Thailand on the back foot.
Karan KC recovered from a wayward 9-run opening over to snare Wanchana Uisik and Robert Raina with an identical pair of deliveries that swung in after angling away to castle both helpless southpaws.
At 54/9 heading into the last over, the on-air commentator begun to google the largest margin of victory in a T20I by balls remaining. However, before he could find the answer (Austria defeating Turkey with 104 balls remaining on 31st August 2019), Phiriyapong launched 12 runs off the final over to propel Thailand beyond 60.
In reply, Nepal chased the target down in less time than it has taken you to read this sentence—5.3 overs to be less facetious and more precise. Kushal Malla was at his belligerent best, racing to 36* (18), slow in comparison to Pawan Sarraf’s 27* (10), who made the most of his promotion to one drop.
Nopphon Senamontree picked up the only wicket for Thailand when he deceived a charging Paras Khadka in flight to catch him well short of his crease as Suanchai whipped off the bails in frustration.
Nonetheless, Nepal romped to a 9-wicket win to register a consolation win and earn their first points of the tournament.
Hong Kong vs. Singapore
Singapore became the first team from the Eastern Region to advance to the main qualifiers for the Asia Cup. Yet another half-century from Tim David combined with an undefeated 42 for Player-of-the-match Manpreet Singh propelled Singapore to 168/5 before Singapore’s spinners squeezed Hong Kong on the way to a 16-run win.
After winning the all-important toss and choosing to bat first, things could have turned out differently for Singapore had two plumb LBW decisions gone Hong Kong’s way. More crucially, however, those two questionable decisions went in favor of Singapore’s talisman Tim David.
The evergreen Ehsan Khan and rookie Aftab Hussain dragged things back for Hong Kong after Surendran Chandramohan and Sidhant Singh got Singapore off to another strong start. The pendulum swung towards Hong Kong when Aftab dismissed Chandramohan and an out-of-form Rohan Rangarajan off successive deliveries in the 11th over to reduce Singapore to 83/3.
New man at the crease Manpreet Singh then buckled down along with Tim David for a period of much-needed consolidation. David made the most of his good fortune, clearing deep mid-wicket twice and favoring the lap sweep on more than one occasion.
Manpreet Singh, who started slowly, ended the innings with a flurry of boundaries to make up for both a slow start and the dismissal of Tim David in the 18th over.
In reply, nervous chasers Hong Kong were off to a confident start with Shahid Wasif taking the attack to Janak Prakash and Tim David.
However, Hong Kong would soon lose both their openers in quick succession. Wasif spooned David straight to Aahan Achar at short fine leg just before Nizakat Khan halfheartedly pulled Aryaman Uchil straight to deep square leg to leave Hong Kong 34/2 in the 4th over.
Kinchit Shah and Jamie Atkinson then led a strong recovery to even the scales before a visibly jubilant Anantha Krishna bowled the former through the gate with one that spun in sharply from a 5th stump line.
Hong Kong would then go on to lose a further 5 wickets for just 42 runs, with two of those falling to left-arm-spinner Aahan Achar as the asking rate climbed steeply.
With 43 runs required off the last 2 overs, Hong Kong’s chase was as good as done. Lusty blows from Ehsan Khan and Scott McKechnie proved inconsequential to the final result as Singapore added Hong Kong to their growing collection of high-profile victims.
Singapore was all smiles, while Hong Kong was left with the prospect of beating Malaysia—a team that just recently whitewashed them 5-0—on Friday in order to secure an all-important top two finish.