Picture by Suphanan Khamyuong

By Richard Lockwood, CAT

International cricket came to the lovely new ground at Royal Chiang Mai Golf and Cricket Resort and Singapore marked a royal occasion by defeating Iran by 10 wickets in Group A of the ACC Trophy Challenge.

Even before reaching the ground itself, the journey out of the city of Chiang Mai was memorable as the heavy rush hour traffic melted away as busy streets were replaced by rice fields shrouded in mist.

Although it stands beside a well known golf course the new cricket ground is hidden away so new visitors will have a stunning surprise when they suddenly see an immaculate sports field with an impressive pavilion that has been recently converted into a cricket ground by the addition of three grass pitches.

Picture by Suphanan Khamyuong

The onset of the cold season in the north of Thailand meant that dew still covered the ground when the teams and officials arrived but the mist clinging to the tree lined hills was soon burnt away by the sun and all was ready for a 10 o’clock start after Singapore had won the toss and elected to field.

Singapore are looking to make a mark in this tournament after they had been relegated from the ACC Trophy Elite two years earlier but Iran’s openers were obdurate and survived the first seven overs with Shoib Razzak contributing four wides and four no balls to the total.

The first bowling change had immediate effect when Varun Sivaram had Shir Mohammad caught in the covers from his very first ball and he also dismissed Faramarz Shahbakhsh for nought with his third ball.

Opener Salman Sheykhi was twice caught off wild swings when he attempted to take advantage of free hits but he managed to survive for an hour before he was caught at first slip off the bowling of Saad Janjua and Hossein Lashari followed next ball as Iran slipped to 31 for four.

Abdoulwahab Ebrahimpour was lbw to the slow left-arm spin of Anish Param but Dakhoda Dahani launched a brief counter-attack as he hit three fours and two sixes in his innings of 28.

Second spinner Abhiraj Singh was initially expensive as Iran’s lower-order tried to lift the total above the hundred mark but he was rewarded for giving the ball flight and he finished with three wickets for 29 in 5 overs.

Shoib Razak returned to take the last wicket and Iran were dismissed for 94 in 31.4 overs. Iran’s batsmen had struggled against some testing bowling but Singapore’s openers were about to show there were no alarms in the wicket as they set about chasing their modest target of 95.

Left-arm fast bowler Abdoulvahab Ebrahimpour is a regular visitor to Thailand and has bowled with considerable success on previous occasions but he was no match for Arjun Mutreja and Chetan Suryawanshi who clearly wanted to finish the match before lunch. They brought up the fifty in the fifth over with wicket-keeper Suryawanshi particularly impressive.

Picture by Suphanan Khamyuong

Ebrahimpour is now Iran’s captain and he made regular bowling changes without being able to contain the Singapore openers who hit boundaries to all parts of the ground. Suryawanshi reached his fifty in 25 balls with eight fours and a huge six and showed that this pretty new ground could become a very high scoring venue in the future.

His final boundary brought his side victory by 10 wickets as he finished on 57 with his partner Arjun Mutreja on 32. Singapore had scored 95 in just 8.5 overs to claim an impressive victory which suggests they are looking for an immediate return to the Elite.

Thailand’s players had come to visit the ground and two watch their two opponents in Group A and they could not fail to be impressed by the quality of the surroundings and by the style shown by Singapore’s opening batsmen.

Thailand play Iran at Traidhos Oval on Saturday and this match is now likely to be crucial in deciding who will win a place in the semi-finals from Group A as Singapore now seem to be in control of the group even on the first day of the tournament.

ACC Trophy Challenge 2012, Day 1
Iran v Singapore at Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club
Singapore won the toss and elected to field
Iran: 94 all out off 31.3 overs (A.Singh 3-29)
Singapore: 95 for 0 off 8.5 overs (C.Suryawanshi 57*, A.Mutreja 32*)
Man of the Match: Chetan Suryawanshi (Singapore)

Tournament page

Filed December 7th, 2012