Kuwait Under 19 squad which participated in the recently concluded ICC CWC U 19 Cricket World Cup Asia qualifier, Division 2 at Malaysia proved that they were not mere pushovers and finished 5th amongst the 10 teams which participated in the 12 days tourney. The young squad consisting of some experienced players and some new comers held to their nerves as they overturned Oman’s applecart in the robin round league match to win on the next two games in a row to attain the fifth position.
Kuwait, having lost the first two games to favorites UAE and Hong Kong bolstered and swung back into action with rousing display of professional cricket and kept the Kuwait flag high by being the second best Middle East Junior team after UAE.
After losing the first two matches against UAE and Hong Kong, the do or die battle against Oman was a very crucial one for Kuwait. Being unlucky with the toss once again, Kuwait was sent for batting at Bayuemas Oval by Oman skipper. Manjot Singh and Ahmed Khalid put on 30 runs for the first wicket when Manjot was bowled for 9 runs. Ahmad Khalid, the south paw batted extremely well as he punched with awesome power and danced down the track to loft the spinners. Kuwait lost two quick wickets and were placed at 63 for 2 wickets when Abdul Hasseb and Ahmed Khalid added 47 runs for the fifth wicket. Noman Budroo came to crease to add another 34 runs to post a much decent total of 152 runs. Ahmed Khalid was the top scorer with a handsomely struck 44 runs which had two sixes and five fours. Noman Budroo contributed with a valuable 25 runs with two fours. Indunil Udara bowled well for Oman to capture 5 wickets for 32 runs.
Kuwait caused a major havoc in the Oman camp as seamer Mustaq Ahmad captured two Omani wickets in the very first over before lunch. Thereafter Joseph Manjila & Wasim Ali played excellent cricket by adding 84 runs for the 4th wicket. Both played sensibly well when Anas Ashfaq's turned one through the defensive gate of Joseph to bowl him for 36 runs. Meanwhile Wasim Ali and Mohammed Salman rotated the strike to take Oman total to 122 for 4 in 32 overs.
Then came the most crucial and turning point of the match as Nomaan Budroo the wicket keeper was called upon to bowl from the road end and Oman needed just 30 runs and having two settled batsmen and 18 overs in hand. The fourth ball of Nomaan’s second over was pitched outside the off stump and Wasim Ali’s serene resistance ended as the slower ball deceived him to be bowled neck and crop. Hamoud Amanullah who was bowling a tidy line from the box end, then roared in to take the other three wickets to skittle Oman for 138 runs, thus handing over a 14 runs victory to Kuwait. Hamoud bowled well to capture 3 for 9 runs while Musthaq Ahmed & Nomaan Budroo shared two wickets each. Nomaan who batted well and then turned the match in favor of Kuwait with the crucial wicket of Wasim Ali was declared “Player of the Match”.
The next back to back match played against Thailand at Bayuemas Oval, Kuwait batted first and scored 147 runs. The Thai lads showed great passion for the game and performed extremely well as they impressed the spectators with the bowling and fielding. Abdul Haseeb of Kuwait batted well to score 35 runs while opener Manjot contributed well with a briskly 32 runs. Nomaan Budroo and Khalid Ahmed played very well to score 24 and 16 respectively. Payupath Sungnard and Panask bowled well for Thailand capturing 3 wickets each.
Chasing 147 on a turning track, Thailand lost their opener Sakchai Prakae for zero but Kamron Senamontree and Agam Sanjay Shah posted 59 runs for the third wicket. As double spin attack was introduced from both ends, wickets started falling like 9 pins and Thailand were all-out for 97 runs. Off spinners Anas Ashfaq and Manjot Singh bowled very well to skittle Thailand for 97. Anas Ashfaq took 4 wickets for 20 runs while Manjot scalped 3 for 9 to be adjudged “Player of the Match” for his all-round display.
The play of match for the fifth position at Kinrara against Saudi Arabia was rated amongst the best match of the tournament as far as Kuwait was concerned. Saudi Arabia were rated as the favorite team from pool A as they had given a tough time for the semi-finalists Malaysia & Singapore in the league round matches.
The confident looking Saudi lads who had been at Malaysia almost a week prior to the commencement of the tournament were brimming with great zest as they had the opportunity to get used to the Malaysian weather and playing a few matches at various grounds at Kuala Lumpur.
Musthaq Ahmed and left handed Ahmad Khalid gave Kuwait a rousing start with brisk 28 runs partnership as Manjot who came in the fall of Musthaq’s wicket added another 58 runs with Ahmad Khalid who took over thereafter to play one of the best innings of his lifetime. The pull shot being the trade mark, Ahmed Khalid clouted 4 huge sixes which were cleanly struck and hit 8 boundaries in his scintillating knock of 82 runs. The middle order batting clicked for the first time as Anas Ashfaq and Nomaan Budroo laid a match winning partnership of 89 runs. Both the batsmen played stylishly and the cover drive Nomaan executed in the 37th over was a treat to watch. Anas gained confidence and a sweetly timed flick to the square leg region was the shot of the day. Anas Ashfaq notched his half century with a hit over long on and his knock of 54 runs had 2 fours and one six. Nomaan drafted his innings in style and the tall and lean lad drove with precise timing and nudged quick singles and rotated the strike to score a handsome 68 runs which had 4 hits to the fence. Mohammed Shehzad & Omar Wasim bowled well for Saudi Arabia capturing 2 wickets each.
Chasing a huge total, Saudi Arabia played positively well and their opener Mohammed Nabil was in full cry as he cleverly made use of the restricted field sending the ball over the fielders for boundaries. There was swing early on, a bit of seam movement, and a tendency for the ball to stop on the batsmen occasionally but nothing stopped Nabil to play a swashbuckling innings of 71 runs.
Then, Abdul Sadiq removed Mohammed Nabil with a beauty of a ball which pitched on the middle and off stump and a faint nick was well grabbed by Gokul Sunil Kumar behind the sticks. Saudi Arabia’most accomplished batsmen Saud then took the responsibility on his shoulder and played some attractive shots as he drove and flicked with ease to score the 59 valuable runs. Saudi Arabia slowly gripped the game in their favor as Arsalan (21 runs) and Nawashish (26 runs) took the score to 213 for the loss of 6 wickets.
Off spinner Manjot Singh then turned the tables in favor of Kuwait as he removed a well settled Saud to be caught by Haseeb at gully and then trapped Nawashish Jezuli leg before. Nomaan shattered the stumps of Mohammed Shehzad and took more quick wickets to send Saudi Arabia crashing to earn Kuwait a hard earned 29 runs win. Manjot Singh and Nomaan Budroo shared 3 wickets each while Abdul Sadiq took two crucial wickets. Manjot was declared Player of the Match by Match Referee Venketapathy Raju former left arm spinner of India.
It was a great experience for young players to the likes of Hamoud Amanulla, Abdul Sadiq, Akhil Sajeev Nair, Gokul Sunil Kumar, Shiv Govind Dahima, Govind Sunil Kumar and Nomaan Budroo who are still young and can represent Kuwait in the same age category for a couple of more tournaments to come. The success of Kuwait’s victory was team work and the sincere efforts of all the players to excel and the support of all the members of Kuwait Cricket Council. Arjuna Amaratunga, the Head Coach worked hard in training the boys to play competitive cricket and well supported by Assistant Coaches Sabir Ali and Ashraf Mirza.