Malaysia’s bowlers kept a tight rein on Thailand to come away with an eight-wicket victory and top the standings at the ACC Asia Cup T20 Eastern Region qualifiers in Bangkok on Sunday.
Following Saturday’s momentous win over World No 12 Nepal, Malaysia did not let their guard down against 65th-ranked Thailand, who were restricted to 85 for nine before Virandeep Singh’s 41 not out guided the team to their target of 86 in 11.5 overs.
The national players put the euphoria of a day earlier to aside as they extended Malaysia’s winning run in T20I matches to eight, mindful that the job to qualify for the next stage of qualifying is only half done.
With games against Causeway rivals Singapore to come on Tuesday and Hong Kong on Friday, World No 39 Malaysia are in a good position to grab one of the two qualifying spots in the five-team round-robin league with four points from two matches.
Malaysia got down to business with lanky left-arm spinner Pavandeep Singh claiming two wickets in his opening spell, either side of Syazrul Ezat Idrus and Anwar Rahman getting one apiece, as Thailand slipped to 18-4 at the Asian Institute of Technology ground.
But Henno Jordan looked to have steadied the ship for Thailand, even smashing two sixes in the space of three deliveries from Sharvin Muniandy.
Sharvin had the last laugh, however, as he ousted Robert Raina for 20 to end the fifth-wicket partnership with Jordan at 51 runs. Jordan then fell to Khizar Hayat Durrani after hitting two sixes and two fours off 47 balls for 37 runs.
Thailand added 13 more runs but lost three additional wickets as Khizar and Syazrul ended with identical figures of two for 11.Vir
Virandeep and Anwar Arudin’s opening partnership of 54 runs laid the foundation for Malaysia’s chase before the latter was bowled by Nopphon Senamontree for 22.
After Khizar (4) exited the next over, Virandeep and Aminudin Ramly (16) saw Malaysia home without further trouble with an unbroken 25-run stand.
Virandeep struck three sixes and two fours from 34 balls while Aminudin hit a six and a four off nine deliveries to maintain Malaysia’s unbeaten record against Thailand in five T20 meetings, which includes one abandoned game in Bangi in 2018.
In the earlier match, Nepal plunged into crisis as they sit on the brink of elimination following a 43-run defeat to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, smarting from a 5-0 series defeat to Malaysia prior to arriving in Bangkok, dismissed Nepal for 111 after Arshad Mohammad grabbed five wickets, including three in the 17th over, in response to Hong Kong’s total of 154-6.
Opener Nizakat Khan laid the foundation for Hong Kong with 48 runs and put on a 58-run stand for the first wicket with Shahid Wasif (26).
Monday is a rest day before Malaysia and Singapore square off in Tuesday’s morning fixture before Hong Kong face Thailand later in the day.
Thailand 85-9 in 20 overs (Henno Jordan 37, Robert Raina 20, Pavandeep Singh 2-6, Syazrul Ezat 2-11, Khizar Hayat 2-11)
Malaysia 86-2 in 11.5 overs (Virandeep Singh 41 not out, Anwar Arudin 22, Aminudin Ramly 16 not out, Vichanath Singh 1-17)
Result: Malaysia won by 8 wickets
Hong Kong 154-6 in 20 overs (Nizakat Khan 48, Aizaz Khan 29, Arshad Mohammad 27, Sandeep Lamichhane 2-25, Sushan Bahri 2-37)
Nepal 111 in 18.1 overs (Gyanendra Malla 46, Kushal Malla 19, Arshad Mohammad 5-16, Aftab Hussain 3-14)
Result: Hong Kong won by 43 runs