Saudi Arabia secure spot in ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023 final

Saudi Arabia secure spot in ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023 final
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Updated 09 March 2023

Saudi Arabia secure spot in ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023 final

Saudi Arabia secure spot in ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023 final
  • Kingdom to meet Bahrain in Sunday’s clash following dominant win over Bhutan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s national cricket team comprehensively defeated Bhutan by nine wickets to reach the final of the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023, where they will now meet Bahrain on Sunday.

The semifinal was played at the Asian Institute of Technology Ground in Bangkok on Friday, and ensured the team from the Kingdom maintained a perfect record of four consecutive wins from as many matches, including the three Group B matches of the eight-team tournament.

“Saudi Arabia cruises past Bhutan in #ACCChallengerCup semis, bowling them out for just 62 runs and chasing it down with ease, securing a spot in the finals with a 9-wicket win and over 37 overs remaining,” tweeted the Asian Cricket Council.

Bhutan had won the toss and elected to bat first. A tight bowling performance by the men in green made it impossible for the Bhutanese side to put a healthy total on board, and they were all out for just 62 runs scored in 22.2 overs in a 50-over match.

A brilliant bowling spell by Ishtiaq Ahmed restricted the Bhutan side to a small total.

In his five overs, including one maiden over, Ahmed surrendered only seven runs, while  claiming four crucial wickets from the top order, including both the openers.

Atif-Ur-Rehman (five overs) and Zain Ul Abidin (six overs) supported Ahmed well in the bowling attack, taking two wickets each, and conceding just 12 and 13 runs, respectively.

Only two batsmen from the Bhutan team reached double figures. Suprit Pradhan, who scored 24 from 29 balls, was the highest scorer for his team, followed by Tenzin Wangchuk, who scored 14 runs from 16 deliveries. Four Bhutanese players returned to the pavilion without opening their account.

Chasing that modest total, Saudi Arabia cruised to 63 runs for the loss of only one wicket in 12.3 overs, setting up a the final against Bahrain, who in the other semifinal defeated Thailand by 78 runs.

Waqar Ul-Hassan scored 41 runs in 41 balls for the Kingdom, while Saad Khan, who also remained not out, scored 16 from 28 balls. Abdul Waheed was bowled out cheaply for two runs from seven balls.

The ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023, the first tournament of the ACC’s new pathway structure, is played in a round-robin format with eight teams split into two groups of four. The top two from each group qualified to the semifinals in the knockout stages played on Friday.

The tournament acts as a pathway to September’s 2023 Asia Cup in Pakistan, which itself is a preparatory tournament for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India in October.