China and Myanmar have a cricketing rivalry going back a few years, it may be towards the lower end of the rankings tables but it is intense competition nevertheless. Myanmar had their moments, but it was China that prevailed at the sylvan Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club ground.

At what is one of the most picturesque grounds in the world, newly built by Parn Poshyanonda in the northern Thai town of Chiang Mai, both teams showed that they've come a long way since the last time they met. China have the confidence of world-travellers, have added front-foot attack to their defence (they learn a new batting method every year, just back-foot attack remains) and have developed a fair amount of cricket-sense. And with half the team having spent several months in England and Australia this year, they even speak 'cricket English' to each other on the field.

Myanmar have improved too, considering they have the ropiest of tracks to practise on at home, they showed plenty of ability in the field and had China on the ropes for a while with some fast bowling and aggressive fielding. The Tarzanic Htet Lin Aung took a fine return catch, diving high and to his right to dismiss Song Yang Yang and after a hectic two minutes which had Wang Lei survive a chance amid cries of the non-striker Zhang Yufei obstructing the field, followed by a six over square leg, Ye Myo Tun sublimely caught the next lofted stroke, running back at long-on. Such was the intensity of the celebration, Myanmar felt a very big wrong had been righted. They showed they can play, and how much they want to play.

Zhang Yufei hits the ball awfully hard these days, along with being the fastest bowler in China, and his 39 was filled with some thumping strokes. He'd have had more than 5 fours, if the turf wasn't so lush and heavy. Min Wai was the pick of the Myanmarese bowlers, hitting the deck hard. Abdul Rahman, the left-arm spinner, would cause far more problems if he added 'around-the-wicket' to his repertoire of sliders and occasional arm-balls, nevertheless his 3-34 was fair reward.

China are no slouches with the ball either, Zhang Yufei and Wang Lei sliced through the Myanmar top order, intimidating the batsmen with short-pitched deliveries and considerbale pace. Wicket fell courtesy of some sharp catches and three slips and a gully were in place for the first 25 overs. Only a steady and doughty resistance by Htet Lin Aung and Min Wai who put on 30 for the seventh wicket brought the teams back to relative parity. Min Wai's was the shot of the day, a cover drive on the up that beat two diving fielders.

But China always had enough wicket-taking deliveries at their disposal. "Both teams on the up," says their ACC Development Manager Aminul Islam, "China looking quite mature."

Pictures by Suphanorn Khamyuong

ACC Challenge Trophy 2012, Day 4
China v Myanmar at Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club
Myanmar won the toss and elected to field
China: 187 off 48 overs (Z.Yufei 39; M.Wai 3-39, A.Rahman 3-34)
Myanmar: 87 off 35 overs (Z.Yufei 3-13, W.Lei 4-14)
Man of the Match: Zhang Yufei (China)

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Filed December 10th, 2012