By Richard Lockwood, Cricket Association of Thailand

Bahrain beat Thailand by 124 runs at Prem Oval in the second Semi-final of the ACC Trophy Challenge to confirm their return to the Elite Division. They will now play Singapore in the Final in what should be an exciting match.

Although the margin of victory is undeniably heavy Thailand could reflect on what might have been if they had not dropped several catches during Bahrain’s innings and given better support in the field to their four spinners who all bowled with great control.

Thailand’s opener Robert Raina played an excellent innings but no other batsman reached double figures and Thailand were bowled out in less than 31 overs. If Thailand had been able to bat through their 50 overs, the match would have been much closer. They may have handsome stroke-players, but they don’t have stayers.

Bahrain batted first after Thailand had won the toss and the home side were hoping to take advantage of early life in the pitch but both openers started with boundaries. Abdul Wahab and Ashraf Mughal were looking comfortable with 26 coming from the first five overs.

Thailand’s opening bowlers Rohit Jassal and Ziaul Hoque bowled tidy opening spells but there were few alarms so spin was introduced in the ninth over and Kushal Shah appeared to have made a breakthrough as Ashraf Mughal was caught at long off only for the umpire to signal six as the fielder just touched the boundary rope. Bahrain were 55 for no wicket after 10 overs.

Spin was soon in operation at both ends with Kushal Shah and Noppon Senamontree both bowling nicely flighted slow left-arm and the breakthrough finally came with score on 62 as Ashraf Mughal was caught at short cover off the bowling of Kushal Shah for 27.

Thailand captain Ryan Raina brought himself on to bowl his off-spin and the change worked immediately as he had Abdul Wahab caught behind for 37 as Bahrain lost their second wicket on 70.

Bahrain captain Tahir Dar was now at the crease and he was almost caught at slip as he edged Ryan Raina but swept him for six next ball to relieve the pressure exerted by the spinners.

Asif Siddique had made only five when he was caught and bowled by as Bahrain lost their third wicket with the score on 92 in the 18th over. Thailand’s spinners were keeping them in the game.

Tahir Dar was looking a class player but Kushal Shah was bowling beautifully and he tempted Imran Sajjad out of his crease and he was stumped by Witsanukorn Thapthimthai for 0. Bahrain were 97 for 4 after 19 overs.

The 100 came up in the 21st over with Tahir Dar and Shahzad Siddique at the crease. The Bahrain captain was dropped at mid off; a crucial moment. The next ball went for 4 just to hammer home the miss.

Bahrain were 123 for 4 at the halfway stage. Anowarul Islam bowled his medium pace for two overs and now Robert Raina was bowling for the first time in the tournament as Thailand are keeping the pressure on the batsmen and hoping for a mistake.

Ryan Raina took himself off with figures of 8-1-30-2 and Vichanath Singh was now bowling in tandem with Noppon Senamontree with the two young spinners looking to make the next breakthrough.

Tahir Dar and Shahzad Siddique brought up the fifty partnership for the fifth wicket and both batsmen gave chances in the course of an over from Noppon Senamontree as the 150 came up with four wickets down in the 34th over.

Tahir Dar made the most of two dropped catches to reach his fifty from 50 balls and Thailand would certainly regret their mistakes in the field. Bahrain delayed taking the batting powerplay until the 36th over when Vichanath Singh took advantage of the ring of fielders in the circle to bowl an impressive maiden over. The Bahrain captain hit Ryan Raina for a six over extra cover but was stumped next ball for 58 as the fifth wicket fell on 165.

Ryan Raina finished with figures of three for 45 and Thailand were continuing to fight hard as they conceded only 19 overs in the five-over powerplay. Bahrain were 177 for five after 40 overs and they were looking to accelerate in the last 10 overs of their innings. Shahzad Siddique hit two boundaries in an over from Vichanath Singh to reach his fifty from 81 balls before being stumped thanks to some more impressive glovework from Witsanukorn Thapthimthai who now had three stumpings and a catch.

Shahzad Ahmed brought up the 200 with a six over long on off Kushal Shah as the batsmen were now attempting big hits to almost every ball. Thailand were still in the match but things would have been even better if they had taken all their catches.

Shahzad Ahmed was bowled by Kushal Shah as Bahrain lost their seventh wicket on 217 and Qamar Saeed soon followed to make the score 224 for eight. Kushal Shah’s fourth wicket made it 227 for nine and Bahrain were in danger of being bowled out inside 50 overs.

Last man Sameer Yousuf made sure this wouldn’t happen with 17 from 11 balls and Bahrain posted a total of 250 for nine. All nine wickets fell to the spinners with 16-year-old Kushal Shah returning figures of four for 51.

Thailand needed to bat at their very best if they were to chase down a target of 251 and they made the worst possible start as Rohit Jassal cut the first ball of the innings, a friendly loosener from Sameer Yousuf, straight into the hands of point. Thailand were nought for one.

Robert Raina played one classic cover drive but Witsanukorn Thapthimthai was looking vulnerable outside the off stump and he finally edged one through to the keeper to give Sameer Yousuf his second wicket.Thailand were in trouble at 14 for two.

Richard Bowater was welcomed back into the Thailand team but he did not have a happy return as he was run out while out of his crease at the non striker’s end after Imran Sajjad had bowled a bouncer that had been called wide. The score was now 19 for three in the 6th over.

Thailand had moved on to 43 for three after 10 overs with the Raina brothers, Robert and Ryan at the crease. They had the hopes of their country resting on their shoulders but Sameer Yousuf took his third wicket as he dismissed Thai captain Ryan Raina caught at gully to leave the score on 45 for four.

Bahrain then turned to spin and Kushal Shah who had been promoted up to number five was caught and bowled by Vasantha Kunder as Thailand lost their fifth wicket with the total on 50 and one run later Bahrain claimed their sixth wicket when Ziaul Hoque was bowled by left-arm spinner Qamar Saeed for a single.

Robert Raina had been batting with great patience after opening the innings and watching six wickets fall at the other end. He raised spirits at the Traidhos Oval by hitting Qamar Saeed for a six and two fours.

Anowarul Islam is a powerful hitter as he showed as he got off the mark by striking Vasantha Kunder for an enormous straight six and Robert Raina matched him with a six that went into the trees at mid-wicket.

Thailand’s brief rally ended as Anowarul Islam fell lbw to the left-arm spin of Tahir Dar after an innings of 19 dot balls and one six to leave the score on 83 for seven.

At least Robert Raina was still at the crease for Thailand and he completed a cultured half-century from 60 balls with seven fours and two sixes. He hit two more sixes off Tahir Dar to bring up Thailand’s hundred and he was dropped at long off when he looked to have given it away.

Bahrain must feel they are close to the final already and Robert Raina gave a second chance only to be given another life. Bahrain were being to feel the pressure in the field as they conceded an overthrow to give Raina the strike. He hit another four and smashed the ball to deep mid-wicket only to see Shahzad Siddique to take a brilliant diving catch. Raina had made 74 from 81 balls with eight fours and four sixes.

Thailand’s last two wickets fell quickly as Noppon Senamontree was caught and bowled and last man Kittanu Saeku playing his first match for the senior side was lbw. Thailand were bowled out for 126 in the 31st over and Bahrain had won by 124 runs.

Bahrain have duly been promoted into the ACC Trophy Elite and will now play Singapore in tomorrow’s final. Thailand had their chances in this match but failed to take them and they must bat out their 50 overs. Robert Raina had shown his team-mates what is possible even against stronger opposition. It's just that they'll have to wait another two years before trying again to climb up to the ACC Elite Level. Thailand have another chance to do better in the play-off for 3rd place against other losing semi-finalists Qatar.

ACC Trophy Challenge 2012, Day 6
Semi Final 2: Thailand v Bahrain at Prem Oval
Thailand won the toss and elected to field
Bahrain : 250 for 9 off 50 overs (A.Ghulam 37, T.Dar 58, S.Siddique 57; RR.Raina 3-42, K.Shah 4-51)
Thailand:126 off 30.5 overs (RV.Raina 74; S. Yousuf 3-20, V. Kunder 3-19)
Man of the Match: Tahir Dar (Bahrain)

Tournament Page

Filed December 12th, 2012