By Richard Lockwood, Cricket Association of Thailand

Thailand faced Singapore at the Traidhos Oval in a match which decided the winners of Group A in the ACC Trophy Challenge. Singapore, so far the strongest team in the competition and desperate to regain their place amongst the Elite, triumphed by 162 runs and but there were still a lot of positives for the home side and the younger players will have gained vital experience before the semi-finals.

Singapore won the toss and elected to bat first and lost their first wicket of the tournament as Thailand made a good start with the ball. Chetan Suriyawanshi who made 50 from 25 balls in a 10-wicket win against Iran two days earlier, was caught at gully off the bowling of Ziaul Hoque for just five.

Thailand soon turned to spin as 16-year old Kushal Shah was introduced into the attack and started well but Thanathit Jeerapanthawong could not hold on to his second catch of the morning as he put down a sharp chance at short extra-cover.

Second spinner Noppon Senamontree joined the attack looking to repeat his Man of the Match performance from the previous match against Iran when he took four wickets. It was a delight to watch two young Thai slow bowlers test themselves against two experienced batsmen on a good pitch with the Singapore total approaching the hundred mark after 20 overs.

Singapore's 100 came up immediately after drinks and opener Arjun Mutreja reached his 50 from 63 balls and although their opponents were building a strong position Thailand's fielders were still on their toes and hitting the stumps regularly from the field as they looked for a vital breakthrough.

Thailand claimed their second wicket when Rezza Gaznavi was bowled by Senamontree for 43 with the score on 115 to end a partnership of 93. The home side’s main strength is in their spin bowling as Ryan Rain bowled a soell of five tidy overs for 11 with his off-spin and Vichanath Singh was then given his chance to bowl his slow left-arm with Singapore still on course for a good score.

Vichanath Singh claimed the third wicket when he dismissed Anish Param lbw as Thailand continued to fight hard. Ziaul Hoque came back for a second spell when Singapore were required to take the batting powerplay and he immediately had Mutreja caught behind for 88 made off 108 balls with eight fours. After 37 overs Singapore were 168 for four.

Singapore brought up the 200 with in the 42nd over with four wickets down as Munish Arora opened his shoulders with a straight six off Ziaul Hoque and the boundaries began to flow as Singapore looked to accelerate in the last 10 overs of their innings.

Kshitij Shinde hit three boundaries off the last three balls of Ryan Raina's spell and after Rohit Jassal returned to have Arora caught at long on, Shinde completed a whirlwind fifty in 29 balls with 11 fours. He hit two more fours off Vichanath Singh before being stumped for 59 but the damage had been done as Singapore reached an imposing total of 289 for seven with 102 coming in the last 10 overs.

Thailand kept going well in the field but they will rarely have had to face a batting line up with so much depth. The bowlers will have learnt more from conceding 289 here than they did in their previous match when they dismissed Iran for 80. Ziaul Hoque, Noppon Senamontree and Vichanath Singh all finished with two wickets and the enthusiasm in the field remained high even as the ball was flying to the boundary.

Thailand faceed a stiff target of 290 in 50 overs but the pitch was true and the outfield fast and if a platform was built anything was possible. Rohit Jassal looked a class act as he cut an early boundary but Thanathit Jeerapanthawong promoted to open was bowled for 0 by Pramodh Raja with the score on just seven.

All seemed to be going well for Thailand as Jassal hit three glorious boundaries in one over to take the score to 41 in eight overs but the loss of three wickets for just two runs changed the course of the match, Chetan Suriyawanshi, opening batsman and regular wicket-keeper, showed he was no mean bowler by taking two wickets in successive overs.

Captain Ryan Raina and Ziaul Hoque then steadied the ship as Thailand reached 68 for four after 17 overs at the first drinks break as Singapore's fielding was not as sharp as the home team's had been with a missed run out chance and a misfield that resulted in a welcome boundary.

Singapore's pair of left-arm spinners were now in the attack and Ziaul Hoque launched an on drive for six but then hit a slog sweep into deep mid-wicket's grateful hands. Anowarul Islam was caught at slip second ball to leave the score on a precarious 74 for 6.

Thailand brought up the hundred in the 28th over with young Kushal Shah giving skipper Ryan Raina good support for the seventh wicket. Both batsmen were playing with good technique wisely content to wait for the bad ball.

The partnership had reached 45 when Kushal Shah finally lost his cool and tried to come down the wicket to the slow left-arm spin of Anish Param only to be stumped for 12 but he had showed that he was a young cricketer of great promise. Thailand were 119 for seven after 32 overs.

Vichanath Singh didn't last long as he was bowled by opening bowler Amjad Mahboob for 0, the fourth Thailand batsman to be dismissed without scoring. Ryan Raina was still at the crease and he hit a boundary and a single off the next over to farm the strike expertly. Noppon Senamontree had joined him at the crease and with last man Wanchana Uisuk unable to bat the last pair was at the wicket.

The Thailand captain was the last wicket to fall as he was caught and bowled by Amjad Mahboob for a highly disciplined innings of 44 from 79 balls that spanned 100 minutes. His team was bowled out for 127 in 35 overs to concede defeat by 162 runs. All six Singapore bowlers took wickets showing they were indeed a team with a wide range of batting and bowling options.

Although they had suffered a heavy defeat there were many positive signs for Thailand both with bat and ball as the team rarely has the opportunity to face teams of this ability. The batsmen will have to try to find a way to bat through 50 overs in order to score enough runs to put pressure on stronger sides.

Thailand will now play the winners of tomorrow’s match between Bahrain and Qatar in the second semi-final on Wednesday and the team should not be disheartened as they are still only one win away from a much-prized promotion into the ACC Trophy Elite.

Pictures by Danny Bowes

ACC Challenge Trophy 2012, Day 3
Thailand v Singapore at Prem Oval
Singapore: 289 for 7 after 50 overs (A.Mutreja 88, K.Shinde 59)
Thailand: 127 off 35 overs (R.R. Raina 44)
Man of the Match: Arjun Mutreja (Singapore)

Tournament Page

Filed December 9th, 2012