ACC U-19 Challenge Cup 2009 - Final: Thailand v Bahrain


Player of the Tournament Cyrus D'Souza chaired by his Bahrain team-mates

Bahrain showed it's not how you start a tournament that counts, but how well you finish, by winning the 2009 ACC U-19 Challenge Cup by five wickets against home-team Thailand. This after Thailand had beaten them in the group stage, where Bahrain had only one victory going into the semi-finals. The only match Thailand lost in the event was the Final.

Conditions in the morning were a little hazier than other days at the Prem Oval so far in this competition, Thailand started well after winning the toss. "Get a score, put pressure on, every run above 175 counts double", said their coach Ziaul Hoque. 10 came off the first Aqeel Malik over as he strayed down leg but after that Bahrain's bowlers made better use of the new cherry and it was twenty more balls before Thailand's openers Thanathit Jeerapanthawong and Pranav Parakh found the boundary.

Hardeep Singh fully deserved his first wicket, he'd bowled with pace and control and beaten the bat a number of times and it was a surprise slower ball, after several that had climbed, which yorked Thanathit with the score on 20. Two wickets fell on 28, and Thailand were in a bit of trouble. Wanchana Uisuk, a candidate for player of the tournament, strode to the wicket. And was beaten outside off first ball by Maaz Zafar.Just a hint of away-swing for Zafar who was finding the perfect length to the Thai left-hander. A straight yorker first ball of Zafar's next over, accounted for Wanchana. Bahrain's bowlers have had a Jekyll-and-Hyde tournament so far, today they were economical with the extras and stingy with the loose balls. They bowled intelligently and to a plan.

The menace of Hardeep Singh
Picture by Robert Thaprom

The diminutive Witsanakorn Thapthimthai came in next, a 15-year old schoolboy in Australia whose competitive debut for Thailand has been this tournament. Batting far out of the crease to combat the swing, he and the taller, broader Jai Bhagwat set out to repair the Thai innings. Maaz Zafar struck with an in-shooter to dismiss Bhagwat.

Maaz Zafar clips Wanchana Uisuk's wings
Picture by Robert Thaprom

From the Garden End, Hardeep Singh continued unchanged. Thailand passed 50 in the 20th over, having lost 6 wickets, Thapthimthai caught off his glove, late on a pull off Singh. Singh, who'd only bowled one over in the semi-final against Kuwait for 12 runs, really hit his straps here and reeled off his 10 overs for just 20 runs, taking three wickets.

A decent crowd was building, bolstered by Thai supporters up from Bangkok and Phuket along with a fair number from Chiang Mai town itself as well as the regular crowd of Prem spectators. They didn't have much beyond the occasional boundary to cheer, as Bahrain's bowlers were dominant. Ishan Kalra took 17 balls to get off the mark as Thailand struggled to make any impact with the bat.

100 came up for Thailand in the 35th over, the last-wicket stand between Kalra and his captain VIchanath Singh worth 24 valuable runs up to then. But they could score no more as Sameer Minhas trapped Vichanath first ball of the next over.

Bahrain failed in chasing Iran's 112 in the group stage at Gymkhana. Well as Iran bowled and fielded, Bahrain cited inexperience on turf as a significant factor on that occasion. Thailand have even better bowlers and fielders than Iran, home-field advantage and close to comparable competitive fire. Defending 100 would take some doing but it wasn't impossible, as Bahrain don't have much depth to their batting.

Wanchana Uisuk got the big early breakthrough for Thailand, castling Bahrain's captain Numan Yousaf for 0 but well into the sixth over wides were outscoring runs off the bat. The opener Yaser Eftikhar fell on 18, spooning a catch to square leg off the bustling Wanchana and Thailand had a sniff.

Lunch was taken with Bahrain at 28 for 2 off eight overs. Vichanath Singh and his slow left-arm came on after lunch. He and Noppon Senamontree have bowled all their overs this tournament conceding less than 2 an over, and have taken a bundle of wickets. He did create a chance to stump Sameer Yousaf in the 13th over, but it was missed and Bahrain just kept on taking the easy singles. They had all the time in the world, and Thailand not hardly enough runs. Senamontree was getting turn and bounce but it was with one that shot along the ground with which he knocked back Yousaf's middle stump. Bahrain were 44 for 3 in the 17th over.

Jai Bhagwat brought on from the Clubhouse end struck in his first over, Bahrain 69 for 4 in the 22nd over. Hardeep Singh having worked so hard to get Bahrain into a winning position wasn't going to let things slide and struck his team's first 6.Ishan Kalra got Hardeep late, but it was too late.

Bahrain won at the end of the 33rd over, Sameer Minhas swinging to leg.

ACC U-19 Challenge Cup 2009
Final: Thailand v Bahrain at Prem Oval
Thailand won the toss and chose to bat
Thailand: 100 all out off 36.1 overs (H. Singh 3-20, M. Zafar 4-19)
Bahrain: 104 for 5 off 33 overs
Man of the Match: Maaz Zafar (Bahrain)

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