BANGKOK: Saudi Arabia had their first match in Group A of the Asian Cricket Council T20 Men’s Challenger Cup against Cambodia on Thursday and dominated the match by winning 88 runs.
Cambodia, winners of the pre-tournament qualifier competition and South East Asia Games gold medalists, won the toss and elected to field but were no match for the powerful Saudi batting line-up.
The Saudi innings got off to a dramatic start as Abdul Waheed hit his second ball for four, but Faisal Khan was not so fortunate as his second ball crashed into his helmet as Sharwan Godara bowled a bouncer and Khan was forced to retire hurt.
Waheed was undaunted by that nasty incident and hit a number of boundaries. He was joined by Waqar-ul-Hasan who scored 141 runs without being dismissed in last year’s tournament and who was also finding the boundary.
But Hasan’s unbeaten run was ended as he was caught and bowled by Ram Sharan, and Khan returned to the crease at the first opportunity and immediately hit a four to bring up the Saudi 50 from exactly six overs.
Khan hit the first six of the day, but left-arm spinner Utkarsh Jain had his revenge by getting him stumped. Waheed was still going well as Saudi Arabia reached 84 for two at the halfway stage.
Waheed reached his half-century from 37 balls and continued to build a big partnership for the third wicket with Waji-ul-Hassan. Waheed posted the highest score by a Saudi batsman in T20Is and saw his country past their highest total.
The partnership ended on 102, but Waheed was dismissed on 99 from 58 balls with nine fours and six sixes as he tried for his 100th run. Saudi Arabia finished on 192 for six from their 20 overs.
Khan was feeling the effects of his injury and was substituted by Imran Yousaf as a concussion replacement.
Atif-ur-Rehman and Ishtiaq Ahmad demolished Bahrain for 26 the last time they bowled on this ground, but it took five overs for them to claim their first wicket as Cambodia attempted to catch the big target, managing to reach 35 for one after six overs.
Cambodia lost their second wicket on 44 as Usman Najeeb dismissed Lakshit Gupta leg before wicket for 24 and then bowled Lugman Butt for a duck with a beauty.
Cambodia made a steady start, but they had no answer to the fast bowling of Najeeb who took three wickets to rip the heart out of the Cambodian innings and looks a good addition to an already impressive attack.
Yousaf, the concussion replacement for Khan, is also a useful leg-spinner and he also claimed three wickets toward the end of the innings as Cambodia were bowled out for 104 in 19.3 overs.
Saudi Arabia had won by 88 runs, their biggest victory in T20Is, and Waheed was named player of the match for making Saudi Arabia’s highest individual score.