7th and 8th PLAYOFF: CHINA FINISH WITH A BANG

The warmest day of the tournament so far in Chiang Mai and China's cricketers responded to the sunshine - and a fair amount of coaching - with their first win at senior level in their first senior tournament. They beat Myanmar by 118 runs at the Gymkhana ground.

"It has been tough so far but we won today because of team-work and the co-operation of all," said China's captain Zhao Yang after the match. Star Cricket had a crew on hand to film the occasion.

China's Zhang Yufei

China made a positive start after being put into bat, Myanmar pitching short initially and China's broad-shouldered captain taking full advantage. The game was pretty much won by China in these first few overs, "it's a mental game for China and Myanmar," says ACC Development Officer for both countries Aminul Islam, "they're quite evenly matched but today, China's start really showed how serious they are about winning."

Myanmar were no less aggressive, but with the ball they were too loose too often and though their catching was excellent – none better all tournament than the one-handed catch by Aye Min Than at gully to pouch opener Li Jian – runs were hemorrhaged on a regular basis. What really cost Myanmar was their bowlers dropping short. To the China softballers converted into cricketers, it was chop and suey.

Ai Di is bowled

As soon as Myanmar's bowlers started pitching it up China's run-production slowed. Ye Myo Tun bowled particularly well in his second spell, finding a length outside off and getting the ball to beat the bat. Bowled out in the 40th over, China's 181 was a challenging total.

Zhang Yufei bowled well from the Nong Hei beating the batsmen time and time again with pace and bounce. Ai Di kept well too, and if a team's core are its opening batsmen, opening bowlers and wicket-keeper- in those players China have a foundation on which to build and challenge the more established developing nations.

In a team of triers, no one tries harder than Li Jian. Promoted to open midway through the tournament, Rashid Khan promised a full set of cricket gear, from helmet to boots, if he scored a 50. With the ball in his hand now, he bowled fast and straight and claimed four wickets, two victimes bowled, the others caught close in.

Li Jian, top score with 32 and four wickets for China

From a team that went from not knowing what a Powerplay was at the start of the tournament, the longest version of the game many of them had played being 15 overs, China have shown improvement game by game. Myanmar too. Both these countries "in more than five years will be up to the level of ACC Trophy Elite" says China's coach Rashid Khan, ie among the top 10 non-Test playing nations in Asia.

"Some people think China should only play Myanmar because they suit each other well and will lose badly to the other teams, but I do not agree. Only by playing against better teams can China learn how to play tough cricket. The Asian Games in November 2010 is when I want China to show what they can do," said Rashid Khan, moments after his team hoisted him in the air in celebration of this inaugural victory.

He goes off to Pakistan for a well-earned break, the team return to China to start their New Year on a winning note.

7th and 8th Playoff
China v Myanmar at Chiang Mai Gymkhana
CHINA WIN BY 118 RUNS
Myanmar won the toss and elected to field
China: 181 off 39.3 overs (L. Jian 32, W.Lei 30; A.M.Than 4-54)
Myanmar: 63 off 20.3 overs (L.Jian 4-16, Z.Yang 3-3)
Man of the Match: Li Jian (China)

Scorecard

ACC Trophy Challenge 2009

Pictures by Eric Little

Filed January 20, 2009