ACC U-16 Challenge Cup 2010 - IRAN ARE NOW ELITE

Iran's young cricketers pulled off the greatest victory of their careers in beating Afghanistan by two runs. They now play the Final of the ACC U-16 Challenge and the nation's next U-16s will be in the Elite competition in 2012.

No one, apart from themselves, gave Iran a chance going into this match; Afghanistan have been winning easily, Iran have been struggling. Today, Iran were more than the equal of Afghanistan. In a scrappy match, it came down to the Afghans needing five runs off the last over with a wicket in hand. This after they were 78 for 8, 35 behind, with 10 overs to go. With 37 overs played, Afghanistan needed nine runs, two wickets in hand.

Afghanistan fell short with three balls remaining, the last wicket, like the two before, falling to a run-out.

Iran’s Coach Mahmood Dar was full of praise for his team. “They really fought hard and played with their heart. 12 of our 14 players have never played on turf and we can see a big improvement since their first game here."

Shafiullah Mohammad dominated with his performance early on

Earlier in the day, Afghanistan’s opening bowlers, Shafiullah Mohammad and Naveenulhaq Tarakhil were nippy and accurate throughout, Mohammad picking up the first three wickets.Iran’s Mohammad Houtinik was coming off the back of a half-century against Myanmar yesterday and played sensibly till he was run out in the 18th over.

Iran's Beshkani faces up to Afghanistan's Katawazai

Moin Beshkani (38*) took over the run-scoring duty and played superbly. Hitting along the ground, the right-hander rotated the strike well punishing anything loose. Afghanistan’s Jafar Katawazai took the bowling honours later on with 3-13. The slow-left arm bowler looped and turned and ultimately tricked Iran’s tail-enders.

Afghanistan were cautious in their approach at the start after the loss of two wickets in the span of ten balls. Parwiz Khan and Shafiullah Mohammad played patiently and took the score to 46 in the 19th over before Mohammad was beaten by the turn of Wahab Khorsand.

Two more wickets fell by the 24th over, Iran's fielders supporting their bowlers well. Neither, however, could do much against the canny Qadeer Zazai (34). Zazai patiently nudged the score along, with every run Iran's grip on the match being lessened. When Qadeer was run out in the 37th over Iran had the Final in their grasp.

With three runs wanted off four deliveries, the last-wicket pair of Naveenulhaq Tarakhil and Katawazai ran one but Katawazai set off late for the second. His dive, bat outstretched, ball flying in from long off to the bowling end, was just a few inches short.

Man of the Match Moin Beshkani is hoisted by teammate Mohammad Houtinik
Iran celebrate their first ACC Tournament Final. ACC Development Officer Iqbal Sikander was working with the squad in Tehran at the start of July and says, "if there was a prize for guts and determination the Iranian boys would win it every time. They really try hard with their cricket and this achievement is a significant landmark in their cricketing history." Iran will take on Oman on July 19th after Oman defeated Bhutan by 117 runs in the second semi-final at the USM Ground.

"Even though we had lost to them in the group stage, if we can keep the boys fired up, they will surely give them a good fight,”says Iran's coach. They may even be slight favourites now.

SF1: Afghanistan v Iran at Penang Sports Club
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to field
Iran: 113 all out off 33.4 overs (M.Beshkani 38*; S.Mohammad 3-18, J.Katawazai 3-13)
Afghanistan: 111 all out off 39.3 overs (Q. Zazai 34)
Man of the Match: Moin Beshkani (Iran)

Tournament Page

Filed July 17th, 2010