Bangkok, February 3, 2024 — In a spectacular display of dominance, Saudi Arabia’s cricket team appears to have cemented their place in the ACC T20 Challenger Cup semifinals after securing a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Bhutan in the second round of Group A matches held in Bangkok on Saturday.
Opting to bowl after winning the toss, Saudi Arabia aimed to leverage their formidable bowling attack against Bhutan, who had suffered a 16-run defeat to Indonesia in their opening match. Despite Bhutan’s promising start, reaching 67 for 2, their innings collapsed, and they were eventually bowled out for 89.
Waji-ul-Hassan, part of Saudi Arabia’s pace attack, made an immediate impact by taking a wicket with his first ball, while Hisham Shaikh’s off-spin further added to Bhutan’s troubles. Although Ranjung Dorji’s two sixes boosted Bhutan’s morale, quick wickets ensued, with Usman Khalid’s four-wicket haul in two overs proving particularly damaging.
Chasing a modest target of 90, Saudi Arabia’s opening pair, Manan Ali and Haseeb Ghafoor, delivered an impressive performance. Ali, who scored 40 off 19 balls, and Ghafoor, with valuable support, propelled the Greens to 77 for no loss after eight overs. Despite Ali’s departure, Saudi Arabia comfortably reached the target within 11 overs, finishing at 93 for 2.
With two dominant victories and a significantly superior run rate compared to their closest competitors, Saudi Arabia now appears virtually guaranteed a spot in the semifinals. The absence of Faisal Khan, recovering from a head injury, did not deter the team, as Imran Yousaf, his replacement, showcased his prowess with a three-wicket haul in the previous match against Cambodia.
As the ACC T20 Challenger Cup unfolds, Saudi Arabia’s commanding performance sends a strong message to their rivals, establishing them as serious contenders for the prestigious title.