Report by Richard Lockwood, Cricket Association of Thailand

Thailand looked to have a great chance of reaching the ACC Trophy Challenge Final after bowling out Bhutan for 165 in 48.4 overs, but hope turned to disappointment as they collapsed from 48 for one to 72 all out. It is Bhutan who go through to the final at Prem Centre on Wednesday and qualify for the ACC Trophy Elite Division

Bhutan coach Damber S Gurung, a former player and national captain, told his team at the end of the match:

“Your great efforts will help Bhutan cricket to grow stronger. To reach the final is a great boost to yourselves and to the country. Believe in yourselves for the final as you have done today. Nothing is impossible, cricket is a funny game.”

He has been coaching this group of young players for the last two years and he paid tribute to all of the ACC training programs that has helped his team develop their skills. Bhutan have previously reached finals at under 15 and under 19 level, so it is a great achievement to do so at senior level as well.

There will be great disappointment in Thai cricket circles, but Bhutan’s success is truly a remarkable story, especially as their one cricket ground has been out of action for the last year. Thailand will hope they can follow in Bhutan’s footsteps in future years by developing young local talent.

Bhutan won the toss and chose to bat, a decision which looked a good one when their openers, Kumar Subba and Kencho Norbu, comfortably saw off the new ball, troubled only by occasional high bounce. Kumar Subba was particularly impressive as he hit five boundaries, a mix of off-drives and pull shots, depending on the line and length of the ball.

Bhutan were looking for a repeat of this pair’s century partnership against Brunei, as runs began to flow more freely after a quiet start, but the introduction of spin changed the course of the match. Shyam Sideek came on to bowl his off breaks and almost had Kencho Norbu caught at mid on, before Kumar Subba hit him straight to mid off.

Kumar Subba was out for a fluent 30 from 51 balls to make the score 45 for one and Shyam Sideek soon had a second wicket when Tshering Dorji was bowled for four. Jigme Singhe confidently hit a full toss for four but Nisadh Rego was gaining plenty of turn and bounce with his slow left-arm.

Jigme Singhe tried to hit Nisadh Rego over the top but was caught at mid-off for 10 to make the score 62 for three and at the half-way mark the total had progressed to 81. Opener Kencho Norbu was still batting steadily, as he reached 13 in the first 25 overs.

He finally hit his first boundary in the 27th over as the score edged towards the hundred mark, but Thinley Jamtsho was the next to go as he was caught sweeping from the bowling of Thailand’s third spinner, Nopphon Senamontree.

The spinners continued to be a severe test for Bhutan’s batsmen, gaining spin and bounce from the wicket, and when Sonam Tobgay was caught on the square leg boundary for seven, Bhutan were struggling at 109 for five.

Dampo joined Kencho Norbu and batting became a little easier when the faster bowlers were brought back. The latter hit his second four as the batsmen looked to accelerate in the last 10 overs.

The score had progressed to 149 when the partnership ended, Kencho Norbu finally being dismissed run out by Zeeshan Khan’s direct hit from mid-off. He had made a valiant 45 from 135 balls which had been the backbone of his side’s innings.

The last four wickets fell for the addition of two runs in 11 balls as a position of 162 for six became 164 all out, Ashish Dey having Puntsho Wangdi caught at mid-wicket, while Zeeshan Khan took two wickets in his final over, and John Hottinger claimed the final wicket to wrap up the innings in 48.4  overs.

Zeeshan Khan finished with the best figures, two for 29, but it was the spinners, Shyam Sideek and Nishadh Rego who had been the key bowlers, each taking two for 30 from their 10 overs.

As they started their reply Thailand looked to be clear favourites to gain a place in the final, but Bhutan had a formidable bowling attack, so nothing could be taken for granted.

John Hottinger hit the first ball of the innings imperiously to the extra-cover boundary, but he was out in the second over caught and bowled by Thinley Jamtsho, but with Anil Tanwani and Akshay Desai batting sensibly Thailand were still on course for victory.

Spin was introduced in the tenth over, but off-spinner Dampo, who had taken six for 17 against Brunei, was hit for the first six of the match by Anil Tanwani as the score progressed to 48 for one.

Dampo took his first wicket when Akshay Desai played on and it was a great surprise when Nishadh Rego, who had batted so confidently against Maldives, flicked Dilip Subba off his legs to be caught at mid-wicket for nought.

Dampo dropped short to be pulled for four by Shyam Sideek but it became 58 for four when he was trapped lbw on the back foot. Thailand had recovered from perilous positions in earlier matches, but it was not to be against Bhutan as Anil Tanwani was bowled by Dampo as he stretched forward.

Zeeshan Khan had made an excellent fifty against Iran, and he played one beautiful on-drive for four before being caught and bowled by Dilip Subba who was proving very hard to play with his deceptive action. It was now 66 for six and Shishir Turilay was the next to flatter to deceive as he hit a boundary through extra-cover only to be caught at mid-wicket off Dilip Subba..

When wicket-keeper Shreyanshu Tewari was bowled round his legs by Dampo to make it 71 for eight, celebrations were already beginning and the end came quickly, Ashish Dey the third man to be caught and bowled, and Nopphon Senamontree bowled by Dampo to give him his fifth wicket.

Dampo (5 for 29) and Dilip Subba (4 for 13) had bowled tidily, but it was a series of injudicious shots from the Thai batsmen that had brought about a remarkable collapse. Nine wickets fell for 24 in 11.3 overs as Thailand were bowled out for 72.

Bhutan were worthy winners by 92 runs, Dampo man of the match for his innings of 22 and his five wickets. The young Bhutan team mixed great enthusiasm with sensible disciplined cricket, so richly deserve their place in Wednesday’s final.

Bhutan 164 (48.4 overs) (Kencho Norbu 45, Kumar Subba 30; Zeeshan Khan 2-29, Shyam Sideek 2-30, Nishadh Rego 2-30)

Thailand 72 (25.2 overs) (Anil Tanwani 20; Dampo 5-29, Dilip Subba 4-13)

Bhutan won by 92 runs


ACC Trophy Challenge 2009

Filed January 19, 2009