Dubai: The UAE Under-19 left-arm spinner Rahul Bhatia carried his good form from the UAE’s inter-collegiate cricket tournament to Asian Cricket Council Western Region tournament in Malaysia. He produced a deadly spell of six wickets for 25 runs to ensure the UAE a 73-run win over Bahrain in the opening match of the tournament.
The UAE were bowled out for only 126 runs but Bhatia with his six-wicket spell from 9.5 overs, backed by his skipper Fahad Nawaz’s four-wicket haul for 16 from six overs, bowled out Bahrain for a paltry 54 runs in 23.5 overs.
Before Bhatia flew out to Malaysia, he had produced a brilliant spell of five wickets for 10 runs in the University Premier League (UPL) Twenty20 championship against Skyline University to help Heriot Watt win the title. He also had bagged four wickets in the semi-final and also claimed five wickets for 19 runs against Midlands University from the UK in the UAE Under-19 warm up match before the tour.
Speaking to Gulf News from Malaysia after bagging a total of 20 wickets from four matches, Rahul said: “I always bowl with an aim of winning the match for my team. Being able to remain calm and focusing on the line and length has helped me. I got some good turn and exploited it well to take the wickets.”
Rahul has made it a habit to run through batting line-ups. In April, representing the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) Blues against Papua New Guinea (PNG), he produced a spell of five wickets for 21 runs.
On Thursday, the UAE won the toss but got off to bad start losing opener Ansh Tandon for a duck to George Aaron Axtel. One-drop batsman Aryan Lakra fell to Axtel for four. The UAE opener and captain Nawaz could score only 10 runs but Mohammad Ali hit a fighting 46 runs and Hrithik Bhatia chipped in with 28 to ensure the UAE had a fighting total.
Rahul struck right away by clean bowling Bahrain opener Mohammad Tariq for three. Rahul also removed Axtel for a duck and next batsman Rakshit Puppala. Three down for 15 in the first 10 overs, pressure began to mount on Bahrain. When Fahad had Mohammad Ashiq caught by Rahul for four and trapped Lijo Jose too leg before for a duck, Bahrain’s half the batsmen were back in the pavilion for 24 runs. Rahul went for the kill despite Jagan Vijayakumar’s fighting knock of 33 runs.
Brief scores: UAE bt Bahrain by 73 runs. UAE 126 in 33.5 overs (Mohammad Ali 46, Hrithik Bhatia 28, George Axtel 4 for 35) Bahrain 54 in 23.5 overs (Jagan Vijayakumar 33, Rahul Bhatia 6 for 25, Fahad Nawaz 4 for 16).