THAILAND SECURE THIRD POSITION

Hosts Thailand managed to crawl out of an early batting slump to post a total of 149. It was enough to see off Iran by 78 runs.

The losers of yesterday's semi-finals met each other today in a play-off to determine third place. Iran and Thailand had met earlier in the group stage, Thailand winning easily, but after the bitter disappointment of their loss to Bhutan the day before, the question was whether Thailand could rouse themselves.

Their batsmen didn't find the going easy. One week earlier they had made 283 to win by 195 runs. This time, Iran were better prepared and Thailand were less combative. Going in to bat first, after winning the toss, Thailand's Arnab Chaudry was bowled through bat and pad for 3 by Iran's captain Abdolvahab Ebrahimpour.

Wanchana Uisuk and Shreyanshu Tewari steadied things with a 25-run partnership until Tewari's stumps were knocked flying by Vasim Tirehdast. He had made 13.

Afshin Tirehdast of Iran
Uisuk: Batted 39 overs for Thailand

Standing at just over four and a half feet tall, 11-year-old Afshin Tirehdast (4-28) and his elder brother Vasim (2-19) worried Thailand's batsmen repeatedly. They took the next three wickets to fall for just nine runs leaving the score at 53-6 after 18 overs.

After the fall of the sixth wicket, Thailand finally got their batting going as opener Uisuk and Kshitij Jhaveri put on 59, until Jhaveri was caught behind for 12. Uisuk may have taken a while to get the runs but given the situation Thailand were in at the start, just staying at the crease and letting the runs come was a wise choice. He went on to bat through to the 39th over, making 68 off 116 balls. He has been the batting star of the tournament for Thailand and should he push on and fulfill his promise, looks to have the making of an exceptional all-round cricketer.

Thailand were captained for the first time this tournament, by their own pocket dynamo, Vihar Shah who has distinguished himself throughout this tournament with his bowling and positive attitude. Indeed it was he alone, who managed to stay positive during Thailand's batting collapse in the semi-final the day before, when all about him, his team-mates were sinking into despair with each falling wicket.

Thailand finished on 149-9. They were disappointed but still, with their quality attack against a flighty Iranian line-up, they had every chance of winning.

Iran started well. With the score at 21, Saged Beggarzahi came charging down the pitch and sent the ball high in the air towards long-on. Neither Ishan Kalra nor Yotsakon Chaipom called for the catch and slammed into one another. Luckily for Kalra, he was able to hold onto the ball. The second wicket fell at 27.

Runs were coming steadily for Iran and Thailand were getting anxious. The bowlers and fielders pressed even harder. Aref Raeiss gifted his wicket to Thailand by a heedless run-out, and the opener Vasim Tirehdast fell to super catch by Arnab Chaudary, the ball being grasped just inches off the ground at point. At 52-4 the game was just edging Thailand's way.

Iran's captain Ebrahim was yet to come, however. Once Javeri bowled him neck and crop with a top-spinner the game was Thailand's for the taking.

Mehta is mobbed by teammates after collecting his fifth

But ten overs and just 19 runs later, the remaining six wickets had fallen, courtesy of the spin of Aditya Mehta (5-6) and Kshitij Jhaveri (2-14).

Man of the Match Aditya Mehta receiving his award from Tournament Director Anil Kalaver

Thailand secured third place in the 2006 ACC U-15 Challenge Cup by 78 runs. Man of the Match award was Aditya Mehta.

Thailand v Iran at AIT, Bangkok
Thailand won the toss and elected to bat
THAILAND WON BY 78 RUNS
Thailand: 149 for 9 in 40 overs (W. Uisuk 68; A. Tirehdast 4-28)
Iran: 71 all out after 21.2 overs (A. Mehta 5-6)

Man of the Match: Aditya Mehta (Thailand)

Filed December 22 2006