Oman shock Saudi Arabia in Gulf Cup clash

Oman's team celebrate after scoring a goal during the 2017 Gulf Cup of Nations football match between Saudi and Oman at the Kuwait Stadium in Kuwait City on December 28, 2017. / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Updated 29 December 2017

Oman shock Saudi Arabia in Gulf Cup clash

KUWAIT CITY: Saudi Arabia missed out on a Gulf Cup semi-final place after a 2-0 defeat to Oman in Kuwait on Thursday. 

Although the Saudis started well, Oman soon came back into the match with promising bursts on the break. Their first chance came when the ball came in from the left and was met by Abdul Aziz Al-Muqbali, but he failed to make a proper connection.

That bright start soon started to fade as Saudi Arabia came back into the match and started to force the Omanis deep into their own half. Despite their dominance and superior possession, Saudi Arabia’s players failed to find a breakthrough in the first half.

They were left to rue that lack of creativity as Oman came out after the half-time break much the better side and in the 58th minute took a surprise lead. Said Salim, a second-half substitute for Al-Muqbali, put away a rebound after Assaf Al-Qarni had saved the initial shot.

The shock of going behind seemed to shake the Saudi Arabian players into action as with less than half-an-hour to go, they started to put pressure on the Omani defense. As they searched for the equalizer, however, Oman remained dangerous on the break.

As desperation grew among the Saudi Arabian ranks, they continued pressing forward and thought they had found the equalizer in the 75th minute, only for the assistant referee to rule it out for offside.

It got worse for Saudi Arabia soon after, Oman added a second to take the game beyond their reach. Al-Mushaifri’s cross was met and buried by Khalid Khalifa Al-Hajri.

In spite of sustained pressure, another disallowed goal and two late penalty shouts Saudi were unable to find a goal.

Oman are joined in the semi-finals by UAE, who were held to a goalless draw by hosts Kuwait in Thursday’s other match. Iraq, Bahrain and Qatar will fight it out on Friday for the remaining two semi-final spots.

Pakistan beat Afghanistan in last over finish

Bangladesh's Mahmudullah, right, bats during the one day international cricket match of Asia Cup between Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 22 September 2018

Pakistan beat Afghanistan in last over finish

  • Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6

DUBAI: Experienced batsman Shoaib Malik hit a six and a boundary to pull off a sensational last over three wicket win for Pakistan against a spirited Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Malik pulled the second ball of the final over by paceman Aftab Alam over the deep square leg boundary and then whacked the next to deep fine leg for a boundary as Pakistan pulled off a nerve-wracking win in 49.3 overs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Pakistan, cashing a stiff 258-run target, were home and dry to start the Super Four Stage with a much needed win and now face arch rivals India in Dubai on Sunday.
Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6.
Pakistan were off to a disastrous start when opener Fakhar Zaman was trapped leg-before off the sixth ball of the innings by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for nought.
Imam-ul-Haq scored a 104-ball 80 with five boundaries and a six while Babar Azam knocked an attractive 94-ball 66 with four boundaries and a six during their innings repairing the 154-run stand for the second wicket.
But both fell within the space of four runs as spinner Rashid Khan (3-46) brought Afghanistan back in the game with the asking rate getting stiffer, as Pakistan needed 42 off the final five overs.
Despite losing skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (eight), Asif Ali (seven) and Mohammad Nawaz (ten), Malik kept his cool to sop Afghanistan from posting their third straight win after beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round.
Earlier, Shahidi hit three consecutive boundaries in the final over off Usman Shinwari, but failed to get to three figures off the last delivery after Afghanistan won the toss and batted.
Shahidi finished with a brilliantly-paced 118-ball 97 not out, and added 94 for the fourth wicket with his skipper Asghar Afghan, who smashed five sixes and two fours in his 56-ball 67.
But it was Shahidi who held one end against Pakistan’s bowling in an innings which featured seven boundaries after left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (3-57) had put the brakes on Afghanistan’s early progress.
Shahidi had added 63 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah who scored a measured 36.
The total is an improvement by Afghanistan after scoring 249 and 255 in their previous two wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Pakistani fielders dropped four catches — three off debutant paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with 2-38.
India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in Dubai and now meet Pakistan on Sunday, also in Dubai. Afghanistan and Bangladesh meet in Abu Dhabi on the same day.
Top two teams from the Super Four Stages will play the final in Dubai on September 28.