Singapore went into this ACC U-19 Challenge game in Bangkok not knowing too much about Iran. They finished it as winners and with a considerable amount of respect for their opponents. Iran: one sees so little of them in international cricket. Whenever they do appear however, their games are nothing less than intensely contested affairs.

Singapore won the toss and batted on what was quickly apparent as being a fine, pacy deck at the newly redeveloped AIT Ground in Bangkok (“a very good wicket,” said Match Referee Venkatapathi Raju. Opener Archit Goenka looks a fine prospect, hard on anything short and in the slot and his driven six over mid-wicket off first change Ali Jadgal was a quality stroke.

Singapore passed 50 for no loss in the 13th over, cruising it seemed to a 200+plus total.

Iran had as many as five captains on the field at times, all setting the fields and calling for bowling changes. What they also had were four good spinners and a couple of outstanding fielders. It was Goenka’s dismissal to a blinder of a catch on the circle at mid-on, a short–ball was slammed head-high to the right of Ahmad Shadzesisarjou that opened up the Singapore line-up. Spinners Wahab Khursand, Afshin Tirehdast, Jayezeh and in particular left-armer Hossein Lashari made things difficult for the young Singaporeans.

“We had a ten-day camp in Tehran on a baseball field before coming here, the boys are all from Baluchistan and play one game a week on Friday, on concrete, with a sandy outfield,” says Yousef Raeisi. For them every match is a matter of personal significance. They may be raw, they may be unversed in many of the nuances of cricket, they may be boys of the most humble stock in Iran – what they have is a nobility of effort and an overweening desire to succeed. Shadzesisarjou took two more excellent catches in the circle, and Wahab Khursand, nursing a sore calf, took a fine catch at mid-off to dismiss the more than competent Abhiraj Singh as well as effecting a run-out and bowling 10 overs. Gutsy these Iranians are.

Yesterday Iran lost to China – “our first game on grass this tournament and we could not adapt,” said Coach Yousef Raeisi (it was China’s second game, after their first day loss to Singapore). They certainly had adapted in the field today against Singapore who practice on turf at home and arrived in Thailand a week ahead of the tournament to acclimatize.

Singapore lost their six wickets for 61 runs over 20 overs, not so much muscled out of a big score as hustled and harried by some very keen fielding. Iran weren’t perfect in the field, at least three chances, two run-outs and a stumping were missed but they were always at the Singaporeans. Singapore were all out for 155 at the start of the 45th over. Below their expectations, but they have bowlers of their own too. Iran would have to bat well and take the game deep into the 50 overs to win.

In Brigu Iyer Singapore have a fast bowler of some promise – as well as a batsman-smiting glare – and he bowled an exceptional opening spell from the Field End. Karthik Suresh found outswing too and Singapore went into lunch at 12 for 1.

Singapore were a lot less chirpy after the resumption, more focused on action and not intonations, and thus were more effective. Iran were 22 for 3 in the 13th over, spinners at both ends who were finding as much turn as their Iranian counterparts. Iran had struggled against China’s neophytes yesterday, and their struggles continued today. Abhiraj Singh, who plays for Singapore’s senior side caused all sorts of problems. He was bowling a little quicker today than against China, but the arm ball was in evidence and Iran’s young batsmen weren’t picking him at all.

Iran weren’t able to relieve any of the building pressure upon them with singles and after losing their fifrth wicket to a run-out were further becalmed. Javed Tarkhan tried to get things going with a slog-sweep but picked out midwicket and at 32 for 7 after 20 overs, Iran weren’t going to get back into it. Especially when Abhiraj had Masood Jayezeh stumped two balls later and had another wicket to an excellent slip catch to end his over.

Singapore won by plenty but they had to work hard for it. Which is as it should be.

ACC U-19 Challenge 2013

Group A: Singapore v Iran at AIT
Singapore won the toss and chose to bat
Singapore: 155 all out off 44.1 overs (A.Goenka 38, A.Singh 33; H.Lashari 6-21)
Iran: 38 all out off 21.4 overs (A.Singh 5-11)
Man of the Match: Hossein Lashari (Iran)

Tournament page

Filed December 9th, 2013