Career-best performances by UAE youngster Vriitya Aravind and Bahrain’s Junaid Aziz steered their respective teams to victory in the group B matches on the opening day of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier A, here on Friday.
A dream spell by leg-spinner Aziz, who picked five wickets in ten balls and a captain’s knock by Sarfaraz Ali, who smashed an unbeaten 69 off 38 balls, led Bahrain to a six-wicket win over Germany at the Oman Academy ground 2. For UAE, the stars of their 18-run win over Ireland were the team’s young pair 19-year-old Aravind and 21-year-old Karthik Meiyappan.
Aravind missed a deserving maiden century by just three runs, staying unbeaten on 97 off 67 balls in his team’s total of 157. His well-timed innings comprised 13 boundaries and a six while Meiyappan picked three for 16 in his three-over spell as Ireland were restricted to 139 for nine.
Chasing a target of 158, Ireland openers Paul Stirling and skipper Andy Balbirnie made a cautious start to take their side to 50 for no loss at the end of power play overs.
Meiyappan struck in the very first ball of his spell as he had Stirling caught by Muhammad Waseem in the deep for 32. Balbirnie left soon after and Gareth Delany was Meiyappan’s second wicket, who also accounted for Simi Singh to leave Ireland struggling at 66-4.
George Dockrell and Shane Getkate got off to starts but got out earlier in a bid to accelerate the run-rate as Ireland stuttered to 111-6 in 16 overs. Lorcan Tucker’s innings of 25 ended when he was caught by Basil Hameed off Zahoor Khan, who also had Craig Young leg before wicket. Ireland was restricted to 139 for nine with experienced Rohan Mustafa bagging two late wickets.
Earlier, 20-year-old Aravind displayed maturity beyond his age as he shouldered the responsibility of shepherding the team to a challenging target.
Coming into bat with the team’s total reading 20-2, Aravind paced his innings in style. The wicketkeeper-batter tackled the middle overs with tact before launching an attack in the death overs. The last five overs were the most productive for UAE as Aravind displayed his range of strokes and along with Zafar Farid (12) and fetched 63 valuable runs.
Ireland’s Craig Young’s last over cost him 14 and Mark Adair’s penultimate over of the innings went for 14 as Aravind hammered two successive boundaries. Joshua Little got the back of Farid off the second ball in the inning’s final over before Aravind launched a blitz with a six, followed by two back-to-back cuts behind square for boundaries as UAE finished at 157 for five.
Adair had claimed the wicket of opening batter Chirag Suri in the very first over to give Ireland a dream start. Aravind came in to join Muhammad Waseem and the duo took the score to 20 in four overs. Young broke the standoff on the first ball of the fifth over when he removed Waseem. Unperturbed, Aravind then counter-attacked Young as he hit two successive fours in the same over.
Aravind and Mustafa steadied the ship further as the scoring rate fell with the team able to score 58-2 at halfway stage. Simi Singh got the breakthrough Ireland wanted in the next over as he dismissed but Basil Hameed and Aravind got together to share a 34-run crucial stand. Hameed’s exit left Aravind and Farid to take the team to a total they could defend, an ICC report said.
In another match, coming out to bat after Bahrain had won the toss, Germany put up a score of 106 with 20 balls to spare. They lost six wickets in 14 balls, while adding 7 runs to the scoreboard. Vijay Shankar with a solid 43 ball 50, was the top scorer.
After getting off to a steady start in the first five overs, opener Justin Broad and Michael Richardson were dismissed in back-to-back overs. A flurry of wickets in quick succession undermined their efforts as Dylan Blignaut and Faisal Mubashir were dismissed in consecutive deliveries of the ninth over.
Shankar and captain Venkat Ganesan were able to rebuild the innings with a priceless 44-run partnership before the latter was dismissed as part of a three-wicket over by Aziz. Germany lost Shankar in the first ball of the very next over, their fourth wicket in five deliveries.
In response, a confident and mature knock from skipper Ali helped Bahrain reach their target. Dieter Klien picked two wickets in the first over for Germany. But a 57-run partnership between Ali and Aziz put their side back in total control.
Aziz was dismissed in the tenth over but by the time Germany picked up their next wicket, Bahrain needed 15 from 6 overs. Ali stayed until the end to see the win through, and Bahrain got over the line with four overs to spare.
Germany will have the chance to make amends in Saturday’s game against the UAE. Bahrain on the other hand will face Ireland.