Singapore prevailed in a closely-fought, rain-affected match against Qatar to close out a six-run win in their opening match of the second leg of CWC Challenge League A, keeping pace with hosts Canada at the top of the table with five wins from six overall.
At the other end of the table, Vanuatu started off their tour with only their second win of the competition, again besting Malaysia albeit without captain and lead wicket-taker, Patrick Matautaava, who remains stranded in Denmark along with two Danish players waiting for his visa to clear.
Vanuatu nonetheless took advantage of the conditions as Malaysia struggled to put partnerships together on another difficult King City wicket, only a dogged 28 from Virandeep Singh at the top of the order and a battling unbeaten 42 from Khizar Hayat at seven, dragged them to a total of 124. For much of the second innings that looked a competitive total, but keeper Jarryd Allen looked to be batting on a different wicket as he struck a game-changing 39 not-out from number six to haul Vanuatu over the line with two wicket in hand.
The Malaysia innings had begun inauspiciously as Vijay Singh was run out in the first over by a direct hit from backward point, and it soon became clear that runs would be at a premium as Nalin Nipiko took three consecutive wickets. Captain Ahmad Faiz padded up in the fourth over to one that jagged back in, Syed Aziz caught second slip on the drive in the tenth before Nipiko nicked off Mohammad Ramli in his next over.
Spinners Joshua Rasu and Williamsing Nalisa would prove still more of a handful as Nalisa found Sharvin Muniandy’s edge after drinks before removing Virandeep in his next. Rasu kept the procession rolling, pinning Ainool Hafizs in front and knocking back Anwar Rahman’s off stump with an arm ball in the space of three deliveries as Malaysia stumbled to 64 for 8. Hayat would arrest the slide however. Muhammad Wafiq and Pravandeep Singh hung in with him to stretch out the innings even as Hayat began to visibly struggle. The team reached 123 for 9 when the rain came after 37 overs.
The final wicket fell almost immediately after the resumption, Singh run out to leave Hayat unbeaten on 42 with just 124 on the board, but Vanuatu found the going no easier.
Wafiq struck first, bowling Nipiko in the fourth over before Syed Aziz took four in succession to rip through the rest of the top order. Suddenly at 6 for 68 after just 18 overs, it seemed as though Malaysia would defend comfortably. Allen kept his composure however, punishing bad balls but willing to trust his partners with the strike, even after Aziz completed his five-fer and Vanuatu were reduced to their last two wickets. The score kept creeping up as the tail rallied round Allen, who eventually saw his side over the line with an unbeaten 39 off 41.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s top-order laid a composed foundation in the face of an equally unhelpful surface with openers Surendran Chandramohan and Rohan Rangarajan bringing up a half-century stand in 11 overs. Rangarajan’s inattentive running brought the breakthrough, as he was surprised by a direct hit without running his bat in in the 14th over.
Chandramohan miscued Musawar Shah to long off looking to force the pace and Reze Gaznavi’s patience also failed him, well held at slip off a top-edge looking to cut Akash Babu as Qatar fought back with the ball. At 80-3 at the half-way point, they looked to have the innings under control. Twin half-centuries from Arjun Mutreja and Aryaman Uchil saw the scoring accelerate however. Uchil’s unbeaten 52 coming off just 34 balls and lifting Singapore to a daunting 244-9 at the break.
Qatar would keep in touch with the chase for much of the innings, thanks in large part to captain Mohammed Rizlan, who built partnerships with Imal Liyange and Akash Babu to take his side to 148-5 when the rain intervened in the 33rd over, just narrowly behind par at the interruption. DLS would demand acceleration however, the loss of 8 overs reducing the target to 220.
Janak Prakash held a sharp return catch to remove Ramesh Babu two overs after the rain, and Rizlan holed out soon after bringing up his half-century with 47 still needed off six overs. Mohammad Murad and Mohammad Nadeem made a go of it, aided by some wayward death bowling, but Prakash held his nerve at the end, defending 12 off the last over to to close out a six-run win.
The action takes a break tomorrow before Vanuatu return to take on Denmark on Saturday while Singapore take on hosts Canada.