Vajid Bahoo holds aloft his Man of the Match prize

On a day of many firsts, Iran's spirited cricketers won the opening match of the ACC U-16 Elite against home side Qatar at the splendid West End Park ground in north Doha. The margin of victory was 58 runs but the real gulf between the sides was evident in the attitude and application of the visitors compared to the hosts.

Qatar's Akash Mandhar is run out

The game was the first non-Asia Cup match in the ACC's history to be played under floodlights at the newly constructed West End Park ground, the venue just two weeks earlier to a World XI v Asia XI game captained by Brian Lara and Sanath Jayasuriya respectively. It was Iran's cricketers who were most inspired today, playing under the same 3,500 lux lights on the same turf as their illustrious forebears has done. "Where the Iranian boys come from in Baluchistan, some of them don't even have electricity," says ACC Development Officer Iqbal Sikander. Let alone turf. "They play on sand and dirt grounds, full of stones and yet they dive and try for everything," says their coach Mahmood Rasheed. Aptitude they have, attitude they have a whole lot more. Certainly more than Qatar today, who bowled poorly and had no demonstrable tail at all.

Iran batted and bowled as positively as they could, dived headlong into the crease to save themselves when batting and though one could see that Qatar had some players who better man for man than their counterparts, overall Iran played as a team, responded to their coach's relaxed guidance and were cricketers for an Association that wants to make optimal use of every opportunity presented to it. Faisal Mihandoost and Man of the Match Vajid Bahoo both made gritty 30s in Iran's 174, before Vajid took the all important wicket of Hamad Mirza, who made a defiant 30 as the last recognised batsman for Qatar.

"We don't have much money, we don't have many chances, we try our best and that's all that we can do," says Iran's manager Saeed Behrouzi.

ACC U-16 Elite 2014
Day 1: Qatar v Iran at West End Park
Iran won the toss and chose to bat
Iran: 174 all out off 38.2 overs (F.Mihandoost 37, V.Bahoo 32*; O.Sayeed 49)
Qatar: 116 all out off 37.2 overs (H.Mirza 30)
Man of the Match: Vajid Bahoo (Iran)

ACC U-16 Elite Tournament Page

Filed October 23rd, 2014