Error-filled S'pore upset by Saudis

Singapore paid the penalty for dropping seven catches as they lost to Saudi Arabia by three wickets in their opening Asian Cricket Council Elite League match at the Singapore Indian Association ground yesterday.

Crucially Saudi No. 4 Shahbaz Rasheed was on 19 when he was dropped at long-on with his side at 59-3 in the 23rd over. He went on to make 66, sharing in a 102-run partnership for the fourth wicket with captain Afzal Saleem (41), as the visitors achieved their target, scoring 150-7 in 40.5 overs.

Though the Singapore bowlers claimed three wickets towards the end, as the Saudis fell from 142-4 to 148-7, their efforts to win the match came too late.

"It was our bad day," said Singapore's coach Mohammed Salahuddin. "Even our good fielders dropped catches. And our total was 50 runs short as the middle order got out to bad shots."

On a slow pitch with the square made heavy by overnight rains, Singapore, who were unlucky to lose the toss, made a decent start and progressed to 113-3 in 26.4 overs. The innings then fell apart with the run-out of opener Andre de Lange (45). The last six batsmen could muster only 36 runs as the side put up a paltry 149 in 42.4 overs.

"Our spinners bowled superbly," said Afzal. "We knew that, if we were accurate, the Singapore batsmen would succumb under the pressure. Our strategy was to utilise the wet conditions in the morning to the maximum."

Saudi coach Tapas Chattopadhyay also revealed that they elevated their lesser-endowed batsmen to the top of the order as they knew the wicket would become harder under the afternoon sun. "We took singles and twos and consolidated after we were 27-3 in the 11th over," he said. "Once the wicket eased out, we went for our shots."

It is do or die for Singapore today as they play Kuwait, who beat Bahrain by four wickets yesterday, at Kallang. For only the winners of this six-nation tournament, which includes Maldives and Bhutan, qualify for ACC's Premier League.

This article was first published on June 8, 2014.
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