The Asia Cup Qualifier kicked off today in Bangladesh and those who were there witnessed a fantastic day of cricket, sadly ignored by the tournament broadcasters who will only broadcast the qualifiers on Monday.

The day opened with Afghanistan taking on the United Arab Emirates, the latter batting first after captain Amjad Javed won the toss. They belied their recent run of poor form, with the opening pair of Rohan Mustafa and Muhammed Kaleem putting on 83 before Kaleem was bowled for 25 by Rashid Khan from the penultimate delivery of the ninth over.

Mustafa batted on, reaching 77 before he was out caught when he miscued an attempted slog over square leg in the 14th over. The score was 122-3 at that point, and skipped Javed was out in the next over with the score on 128. Usman Mushtaq and Mohammad Shahzad put on 48 in the last five overs to take the score to 176-4.

Afghanistan's reply started badly when Mohammad Shahzad and Usman Ghani both fell with three balls of each other early on. Karim Sadiq proceeded to lead a fightback, but couldn't find anyone to join him for a significant time. He reached 72 from 48 balls before he was bowled by Mohammad Naveed from the first ball of the 19th over.

Sadiq's wicket was the seventh to fall, and the score was on 144. Eleven runs came from the rest of the over, with Dawlat Zadran scoring two fours. With 22 needed from the last, Rashid Khan ran a single to get Dawlat back on strike who promptly missed an attempted heave over midwicket and was bowled via his pads.

Shapoor Zadran was deceived by spin from the next delivery, meaning that Amir Hamza's four, followed by him being stumped from the final ball of the match was essentially irrelevant, except perhaps to Rohan Mustafa who can took three wickets in four balls to complete a fine all-round performance. Afghanistan were bowled out for 160, losing by 16 runs.

The second game of the day - between Oman and Hong Kong - was a thriller with controversy, big hitting and a close finish. Oman batted first after Sultan Ahmed won the toss. No one batsmen stood out for them, but there were lots of starts as they scored 180-5 from their 20 overs. Jatinder Singh top scored with 42, whilst Amir Ali clubbed 32 from 18 balls to help his team score 50 from the final five overs.

Hong Kong's reply started poorly with Kinchit Shah edging to the keeper from his first ball - the fifth of the innings. That brought Babar Hayat to the crease and he soon began to look in some form. He contributed 51 to a 58 run partnership for the second wicket with Anshuman Rath, who was stumped from the first ball of the eighth over.

The controversy came in the next over. Aamir Kaleem was about to deliver the final ball of the over when he spotted non-striker Chapman idling outside his crease and stopped to whip off the bails in a clever piece of cricket. Unlike most occasions when this dismissal is attempted (I'm with Don Bradman in saying it's unfair to call it a Mankad as the batsman is responsible) there was no overblown reaction from Chapman, who accepted that he'd failed his gamble and went back to the dressing room without incident. The umpire also didn't make a big deal of trying to get the captain to withdraw the appeal, and there has been no complaints from the Hong Kong Cricket Association since. All in all, dealt with a lot better than usual.

Chapman had got out for 8, and Hayat continued to bat on, even whilst wickets fell around him. Hong Kong needed 45 from the final three overs, with four wickets in hand and Hayat unbeaten on 90 from 48 balls. He then brought up his century with two big sixes, and ended up scoring 27 from the over, meaning that Hong Kong were now in with a shout, needing 18 from the last two overs, with Hayat still on strike.

Some excellent death bowling from Bilal Khan though swung the game back to Oman as he went for just three in the penultimate over. Four runs came from the first three balls of the final overs, so boundaries were needed. Hayat went for another big shot but holed out to the long-off fielder to end his innings on 122 from just 60 balls, the fourth highest T20I score of all time.

Hong Kong reached 175-7 in their chase, losing a thrilling encounter by just five runs. The tournament will continue tomorrow when Oman take on Afghanistan.


United Arab Emirates beat Afghanistan by 16 runs
Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, Fatullah, 19 February
United Arab Emirates 176-4 (20 overs, Rohan Mustafa 77, Rashid Khan 3-25)
Afghanistan 160 (19.5 overs, Karim Sadiq 72, Rohan Mustafa 3-19)

Oman beat Hong Kong by 5 runs
Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, Fatullah, 19 February
Oman 180-5 (20 overs, Jatinder Singh 42, Nadeem Ahmed 3-27)
Hong Kong 175-7 (20 overs, Babar Hayat 122)