India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh are still in the race to win the gold: Asian Games Men’s Cricket QF Roundup

India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh qualified for the semi-finals

After two days of thrilling quarter-final matches, the Asian Games Men’s T20I 2023 finally has four semi-finalists in the form of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. All four teams dished out splendid performances in the playoff games to proceed further in the tournament and keep their hopes of winning the gold alive. 

Match 1: India vs Nepal

It was an easy win for India in the first quarter-final match against Nepal at the Pingfeng Campus Cricket Field in Hangzhou. Batting first in the match, the skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal put up an opening partnership of 103 runs in just 9.5 overs. While the captain could not do much in the middle as he lost his wicket to Dipendra Singh after scoring 25 runs, it was the other opening batter who lit up the Indian dugout with a stunning century. 

Jaiswal made sure to keep the scoreboard ticking as he smacked 100 runs off 49 balls. There was a slump for the Indian side following the Rajasthan Royals batter as Tilak Varma and Jistesh Sharma lost their wickets after scoring only 2 and 5 runs respectively. 

However, the team was able to finish the first innings well as Shivam Dube played a knock of 25 runs while Rinku Singh hammered 37 runs off just 15 balls with the help of two boundaries and four maximums.

For Nepal, Dipendra was the only pick of the bowler as he conceded 31 runs in four overs while picking two wickets. The rest of the players proved to be very expensive with the ball as India enjoyed a total of 202 runs at the end of the 20 overs. Chasing the score was not going to be an easy task for Nepal and the Indian bowlers Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi made sure to keep the momentum on their side only.

Though Nepal managed to reach the score of 179 runs, there were no big partnerships in the middle as no batter could score even 35 runs. Apart from Khan and Bishnoi who picked three wickets each, Arshdeep Singh and Sai Kishore also managed to scalp two and one wicket respectively. 

Match 2: Pakistan vs Hong Kong

After the Indian cricket team, it was time for the Pakistanis to spill their magic in the second quarter-final against Hong Kong and confirm a place in the next round. Hong Kong bowlers did a good job at the Pingfeng Campus Cricket Field as they managed to restrict Pakistan to a score of 160 runs. 

Ayush Shukla was the standout performer with four wickets to his name while Mohammad Ghazanfar and Anas Khan picked three and two wickets respectively. For Pakistan, Aamer Jamal was the top performer with the bat as he played a knock of 41 runs. There was a collapse of the top and middle order as none of the top six players could score over 21 runs. 

It was a golden chance for Hong Kong to create history but their batters failed to carry forward the momentum gained by the bowlers. Pakistan made a comeback in the game riding on the back of a stunning bowling unit as Hong Kong collapsed at a score of 92 runs in just 18.5 overs.

The Green Army ensured a win by a massive 68 runs as Khushdil Shah picked three wickets while Arafat Minhas, Sufiyan Muqeem, and Qasim Akram had two each to their name. The Babar Hayat was the only player for Hong Kong to show some intent with a knock of 29 runs off 27 balls. 

Match 3: Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka

Gulbadin Naib and Qais Ahmad picked three wickets each for Afghanistan

The second day of the quarter-finals commenced with a nail-biting thriller between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and in a surprising turn of events, the former managed to leapfrog the island nation by eight runs. 

Put to bat first, the Afghan team could score only 116 runs in their allotted 20 overs. They started off on a poor note as Nuwan Thushara picked the first wicket for Sri Lanka by dismissing Afghan’s opening batter Sediquallah Atal in the second over.

However, the team managed to bounce back as Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadan stitched a partnership of 54 runs. It was Zadran who did the major work in the middle as he hit 51 runs including six boundaries and one six after facing 52 balls. 

Chasing 117 runs in the second innings, Sri Lankan batters failed to settle in the middle. They fell short of just nine runs as they scored 108 runs in 19.1 overs. No batter showed any intent of scoring runs and handed over their wickets easily to the Afghan bowlers. 

Gulbadin Naib and Qais Ahmad were the heroes for Afghanistan as they picked three wickets each while giving runs at an economy rate of 7 and 4 respectively. 

Match 4: Bangladesh vs Malaysia

It was a last-ball win for Bangladesh as they defeated Malaysia by two runs

Winning the toss and electing to bat first Bangladesh dished out a poor performance in the first innings as they scored only 116 runs in 20 overs.

The middle-order batter Saif Hassan was the only saving grace for the team as he smacked 50 runs off 52 balls. Apart from Hassan, Afif Hossain, and Shahadat Hossain also looked decent with knocks of 23 and 21 runs respectively. Meanwhile, for Malaysia, Pavandeep Singh was the hero with two wickets while Vijay Unni and Anwar Rahman picked a wicket each. 

Chasing the score, Malaysian batters also struggled like the Bangladeshi as they could not chase the target. The team got off to a horrible start as the opening batters Syed Aziz and Zubaidi Zulkifle scored only 20 and 0 runs respectively. This was followed by Muhammad Amir and Ahmad Faiz bagging ducks. 

Malaysia finally saw some hope as Virandeep Singh hit 52 runs off 39 balls but he was not able to take his side over the line with only 5 runs required off the last 9 balls. Afif bowled the 20th over and Virandeep choked under pressure playing three dot balls before getting dismissed on the fourth ball to dash his nation’s hopes.

Ripon Mondol emerged as the hero for the Tigers as he dismissed a total of three batters while giving away 14 runs in three overs helping his side edge out a narrow 2-run win.