The idyllic Prem Oval in Chiang Mai can't have seen many better innings in its two and a half-year existence than Jigme Singye's against China in the ACC U-15 Challenge Cup. He was the difference between the sides as China pressed hard in their defence of 113.

China chose to bat on winning the toss, Bhutan's pace-bowlers Dorji and Dilip swung the ball considerably but the batsmen held firm. Yang Haiming China's left-hander played a cover-drive which lingers in the memory still, and with his captain Du Jinlong put on 48 for the second wicket off 50 deliveries.

Bhutan v China at the Prem Oval, December 2007

Little Susil Sharma broke the stand, catching Du Jinlong off his own-bowling. Sharma's mixed bag of off-spinners, the occasional leg-break coupled with yorkers speared in at pace, China's batsmen found very hard to play. Bhutan's fielders didn't support their team as well as they liked with some fumbles in the outfield and two dropped catches but the bowlers kept getting wickets. China were all out for 113 in the 30th over, having collapsed from 56 for 1.

China's Li Jian hits out but is caught by Bhutan's
Sisir Gurung at mid-on

Bhutan therefore, batted before lunch and were given a torrid time by China's opening bowlers. Dechen Wangchuk was bowled of his pads by Du Jinlong and Susil Sharma was caught at mid-on to have Bhutan in some trouble at 14 for 2. But Jigme Singye was in and he wasn't going to get out. He raced to 21 off 20 deliveries at lunch with four 4s and continued serenely after the break. China bowed well. Li and Du hurried the batsmen and even induced a couple of false shots from Jigme. Had a chance at square-leg been taken when Jigme was on 40, the game could have become very interesting.

Bhutan's Jigme Singye

Jigme reached his 50 off 39 deliveries, playing shots all around the ground. The Myanmar team came for a practice at the Prem nets adjacent to the ground and before they started their session, sat to watch the end of this match. "Give us a 6, captain" they called out to Jigme. He gave them a 4 through backward square."Give us a 6, captain" they called out to Jigme. He gave them a 4 through backward square to seal the deal.

Susil Sharma won the Man of the Match award for his five wickets but it was Jigme Singye who China had most trouble with. "It's up there with my top 10 innings," said Jigme afterwards. A scholar at the Prem School since last year, he said "It's nice to play so well on your home ground."

He'll have to play well in Bangkok also if Bhutan are to win the tournament. Their opponents in the semi-final will be the Maldives.

Pictures courtesy of the Prem Center.

Bhutan v China at Prem Oval, Chiang Mai
China won the toss and chose to bat
China: 113 off 29.4 overs (S. Sharma 5-14)
Bhutan: 115 for 2 after 14.1 overs (J. Singye 71*)
Man of the Match: Susil Sharma (Bhutan)


Filed December 11 2007