The best was saved for last as Iran and Oman played a quality game in the Final of the ACC U-16 Challenge at the Penang Sports Club, Malaysia.
Oman had won the group-stage encounter between the two by 82 runs, but since then Iran had improved. In the end, Oman had just enough quality in the tank to prevail, winning by 30 runs.
Oman chose to bat, on a muggy morning, on Penang turf lusher than anything any of the players. had ever seen before they came to Malaysia. Going into the match Oman were marginal favourites, they have more game-sense than Iran and a couple of pedigree players but Iran have immense team-spirit and aren't scared to win.
Oman's first wicket fell when Abishek Ramesh was well caught by Omid Durzadeh at mid-on, one-handed the ball still climbing when it reached him, 17 for 1 in the 8th over. The batsman had survived an lbw shout the ball before and unsettled, played a loose stroke. Iran were as busy in the field as they were against Afghanistan in the semi-final and Oman, focussing on singles, survived several shies at the stumps.
Iran kept plugging away putting the ball in the right areas. The dangerous Mohool Misra fell for 3 to a return catch by Dorzadeh and Oman were 23 for 2 in the 9th over, their target of 160 looking distant.
Boundaries on this lush, long-grassed field were difficult. Oman, like Iran chasing, were going to have to run almost all the way to their final score.
Iran's feisty little leg-spinner Masood Jayezeh bowled very well and was unlucky not to get more wickets. He bowled especially well to Oman's left-hander/right-hander combinations and looks a terrific prospect.
Much rested for Oman on the performance of left-hander Sweekrith Sajeevan. He hit the first 4 of the Oman innings in the 22nd over, off his 35th ball, a full-toss from Saeid Mullahzehi to move on to 11. Sajeevan hit the bad balls well, but there were few of those. From the 15th to the 25th overs, Oman scored just 28.
And lost Sajeevan at the start of the 26th, yorked by the first ball of Iran opening bowler Moin Beshkaneh's second spell.
|Oman’s Sajeevan takes on Iran’s Jayezeh
© Abdul Rahman
Chirag Asher, Oman's captain, Batsman of the Tournament, the tallest, broadest, most talented player on the field came in. He hadn't faced bowling of this quality before. Masood Jayezeh came back on to bowl his fourth over. Jayezeh pitched his first delivery just outside leg, on a length, and Asher on the back foot, checking a cut stroke, to have the ball clip the bat and was stunned to see the ball clip the off-bail.
Huge wicket. Oman's Inzamam was out. Silence in the Oman camp. Joy unconfined among the Iranians.
© Abdul Rahman
Kedar Gadgil had been in from the start, playing conservatively, but he fell for 27 slicing to cover after a 77-ball innings. Oman 93-6 now in the 31st over. The Oman 100 came up in the 33rd over. Thanks to some zip and zap from Gayash Dias (37 off 45) Oman ended their 40 overs on 139 for 8. Iran would have to bat better than they had this tournament so far to win.
The Iranian players impress so much when you consider how far they’ve come from the concrete and scrub of Chabahar. Yet, like the Afghans in this competition, they lose a tremendous amount of good-will when they berate the umpires for appeals not being upheld, behaving like the most petulant of children as they did, during Beshkaneh's last over.
Oman took the field with a spring in their step. Their opening bowlers weren't quite on a par with Iran's today but the spinners were the danger men. Shreyas Malhotra and Muhammad Khan came on in tandem from the 8th over. Mohammad Houtinik skewed a drive to cover off Khan, Iran were 35 for 1 in the 11th over and not at all fluent against the slow men.
Beshkaneh went for a big heave just a few balls after playing the shot of the day, a square drive off Malhotra to the boundary, and was stumped. Hossein Lashari was bamboozled, no stroke offered, for 0 in Malhotra's next over and Iran were 50 for 3 in the 14th.
Last ball before the halfway-mark, Iran's captain Ahmad Shadzehisarjou was run-out. Iran at 69 for 4 were up with the required run-rate but were hemorrhaging wickets. Victory was going to who hated defeat the least. Oman had been 55 for 3 after 20 overs of their innings.
With 15 overs to go, Iran needed 56, six wickets in hand. Jawam fell, lbw, sweeping Chirag Asher for 43 off 80 balls. Iran needed him to go on, but his innings had lost fluency and authority the longer it went on.
Number 7 Omid Dorzadeh was dropped in the deep on 1 but it wasn't an expensive miss. With 10 overs to go Iran needed 43, five wickets in hand. Malhotra caught Mullazeh well at cover. With 5 overs to go Iran needed 31, one wicket left.
Iran didn't score any further, last man Asif Masoodi falling to a great catch by wicket-keeper Sajeevan.
Oman have done consistently well at youth Challenge level, winning ACC U-15 events in former years. A number of the players on both sides will undoubtedly feature in U-19 cricket too.
|Proud captain Chirag Asher and Man of the Match Gayash Dias|
Oman Captain Chirag Asher was proud of his team, "The boys did really well all throughout and Gayash batted really well at the end of our innings." Always great ambassadors for the game, Oman were worthy winners.
FINAL: Iran v Oman at Penang Sports Club
OMAN WON BY 30 RUNS
Oman won the toss and chose to bat
Oman: 139 for 8 off 40 overs (G.Dias 37*)
Iran: 109 all out off 35.5 overs (A.Jawam 43; C. Asher 4-20)
Man of the Match: Gayash Dias (Oman)
Best Batsman: Kedar Gadgil (Oman)
Best Bowler: Masood Jayazeh (Iran)
Most Promising Player: Song Yangyang(China)
Player of the Tournament: Chirag Asher (Oman)
Filed July 19th, 2010