THAILAND RIP THROUGH SAUDI ARABIA

Thailand again showed they're a cut above all members of their group with a thumping 133–run win against Saudi Arabia. They now head the Bangkok group and will contest a semi-final play-off against Oman or Bhutan later in the week.

The Saudi batsman Abdul Samad takes on Ishan Kalra

Saudi Arabia, for all their batting talent, have to be one of the most recklessly indisciplined bowling and fielding sides in Asia. Everyone bowls wides at this level as they encounter turf, match conditions and regimented one-day umpiring for the first time. Which is why a nation with a strong domestic youth structure – such as Thailand – will be at a competitive advantage in international competition.

Saudi Arabia bowled 69 wides.

Thailand made 261, all the batsmen getting a start. Wanchana Uisuk top-scored with 42 until Saudi Arabia's Maaz Tahir leg-break bowler had him caught in the infield. Tahir's a talent and relished playing on grass on a wicket which aided spin, but his figures were spoilt by too many short-balls and Thailand's captain Shreyanshu Tewari.

Tewari muscled his way to 27 off 12 deliveries (5 fours and 1 six) till he was caught in the leg-side deep off Tahir. Thanatit Jeerapatowong then smacked a colossal straight six off the off-spinner Basim Qadir; it carried eighty-five yards sailing over the boundary, over the tents, over the horse-track, over the Polo Ground wall into the police quarters next door.

Thailand finished on 261 for 6. One would normally say off 40 overs, but in reality they had over 51 overs to do it in.

Wanchana Uisuk was a little under-par with the ball, and though Vihar Shah was treated with respect, there was enough quality in the Saudi batting to suggest that they'd make a proper run-chase chase.

Abdul Samad

Abdul Samad came in at number 3 and announced himself with a glorious cover-drive for four. Sublime as that stroke was, each successive boundary – on the up through cover, whipped through leg, driven through point - was even better than the last. Fresh off a hundred in his previous game (albeit against Myanmar) up against a quality attack like Thailand's he showed himself to be a quality batsman. He is truly one to look out for in the years ahead.

Ishan Kalra alone kept Samad quiet with his stock-inswingers from a length, interspersed with occasional bouncers and yorkers. Their contest was genuine high-quality cricket. Samad couldn't bat from both ends however and Kalra in a seven-over spell took 4-17 and simply tore through everyone else.

Samad with flamboyance, finesse, and more than a touch of arrogance, cruised to 50 off 55 balls and was looking to accelerate when in an absolute multi-dimensional mix-up with Mishal Qurieshi was run-out for 61 (62 balls, 10 fours). Thailand knew they had the game won then. One run-out later, Thailand sealed the deal.

Samad's fallen and Thailand have the match won.

With one more Samad and a lot less wides, Saudi would have come close. Thailand are purring nicely through the gears and look to be strong contenders for the title.

Thailand v Saudi Arabia, Royal Bangkok Sports Club Polo Ground
THAILAND WON BY 133 runs
Saudi Arabia won the toss and elected to field
Thailand : 261 for 6 off 40 overs (A. Chaudhry 40, W. Uisuk 42; T. Jeerapatowong 40; M. Tahir 4-63)
Saudi Arabia : 128 off 30.2 overs (A. Samad 61; I. Kalra 4-17)

Man of the Match: Ishan Kalra (Thailand)

Filed December 18 2006