x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Saudis prove too much for brave Kuwait

Saudi Arabia show marked improvement after their previous heavy loss to UAE in the Gulf Cup.

DUBAI // Saudi Arabia's economic bowling and tight fielding proved too much for an inexperienced Kuwait side who lost by 126 runs on the second day of the Twenty20 Gulf Cup yesterday. The tournament, which ends tomorrow, is the first in which full teams of Arab nationals are representing their country, rather than expatriate players as is the case in the nations' regular sides.

Fielding first after Saudi won the toss and electing to bat, Kuwait had hopes of a close result after their first innings showed much improvement from the team who were swept aside by 119 runs by the high-scoring UAE on Monday. Better fielding saw Kuwait hold Saudi to 198 for six with Saudi captain Nadeem al Nadwi top-scoring with 60 runs, before being dismissed in the 14th over by bowler Tariq Beidas.

Kuwait's captain Fahad Bastaki, one of a few players on the team with experience, bowled the maximum four overs, taking two wickets at a cost of 30 runs, while Tariq Beidas took another. Faisal Razouki Bastaki accounted for a Saudi scalp each. But the vast majority of the Kuwait team were playing with just a month's cricketing experience behind them and their batting collapsed under the slightest pressure from Saudi.

Opening batsman Mahmoud Bastaki had no sooner walked out to the crease before he was trudging back towards the boundary, having been caught out first ball by al Nadwi off a Junaid Iskander delivery. Kuwait could not score a run until the third over. Saudi dismissed batsman after batsman with Bastaki putting together the highest- scoring stint, making 26 runs before his dismissal. Kuwait ended their evening all out for 72 after 18.3 overs. They may have been well beaten, but Kuwait were not cowed. "Our team does not have experience and in Kuwait we play on cement not turf," said Bastaki. "But whether we win or whether we lose, we are happy to be here.

"The Asian Cricket Council [ACC] must take notice that Arab nationals want to play cricket for their countries." @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae