Afghanistan, the tournament favourites, were given an almighty scare by Malaysia, one of the minnows, in the ACC Trophy Elite in Kuwait yesterday before they scraped home by one run in the final over. Chasing 237 runs for a win, the Malaysians were well-placed for an upset at 219-4 after 44 overs. But the run-chase imploded after that and they entered the 50th over needing four for a win with the last-wicket pair at the crease.
Nowroz Mangal, the Afghanistan captain, took it upon himself to bowl the last six balls and after conceding singles off the first and third deliveries, he had Shahrulnizam Yusof caught behind off the second last ball of the game. The dismissal brought hordes of Afghanistan fans pouring on to the pitch and they were celebrating with the team late into the evening. While Mangal was the hero of the moment, the man of the match was Hamid Hassan, who took five wickets for 44, including four of the last six.
Earlier, an unbeaten 64 from Raees Ahmadzai and useful scores in the forties from Karim Sadiq (46) and Asghar Stanekzai (41) helped Afghanistan recover from a middle-order wobble to post 236-9. That initially appeared to be a stiff target for the unfancied Malaysians, but it looked to be under threat for as long as Suhan Kumar, their captain, was at the crease. He made a spirited 61 yet his departure, leg before to Karim Sadiq in the 38th over, shifted the balance towards Afghanistan.
In the other game, Nepal cruised to a comfortable seven-wicket win after dismissing Singapore for 216. They reached the target in just 43.2 overs, with Anil (80) and Mahesh (77) leading the run-chase. * Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi, with agencies