Bhutan have generally proved a much stronger side than Myanmar in ACC competitions at both senior and junior level so it was notable victory for Myanmar when they just held their nerve to defeat their rivals by six runs in an exciting contest at Terdthai on the third day of the ACC U-19 Challenge.
Bhutan won the toss and elected to field with both sides looking to bounce back from heavy defeats against Maldives and Oman respectively.
There was a quiet start to the match as the Myanmar openers were content to block the straight balls and to leave the wide ones. Only one run had come off the bat in the first four overs but both openers hit boundaries and Bhutan were beginning to look frustrated in the field
Bhutan turned to spin in the eighth over, no doubt looking to repeat the success achieved by the Chinese spinners on the previous day. Both opening batsmen were quick to show aggression against the off-spin of Nima Gurung as Myanmar continued to make an encouraging start.
Kinley Penjoyr had been swinging the ball away from the right-handed batsmen but was unable to control the swing and was replaced by Nar Bahadur. Thu Ya Yaung smashed an inviting full toss from the off spinner for four and Myanmar would have been pleased with a score of 30 for 0 after 10 overs.
Spin was on at both ends and it was Ugyen Dorji who claimed the first wicket with the score on 33 as Myat Bo Bo Maung holed out to deep mid-wicket for 8.
The second wicket fell with the total still on 33 as new batsman Htet Lin Oo was caught behind off Nima Gurung without scoring.
Myanmar's encouraging start was turning sour as captain Htet Lin Aung was lbw to Nima Gurung without scoring as the twin brothers shared a pair of ducks. The spinners were again playing a decisive role at this level of cricket as Myanmar were reduced to 39 for 3. Thu Ya Aung was unbeaten on 20 as the players took drinks.
Thu Ya Aung produced a lovely pull for four but played and missed when he attempted two ambitious off-drives and Ko Ko Lin Thu fared even worse as he was caught at mid-off for nought as Nima Gurung claimed his third wicket.
There are two Tenzin Wangchuks in this Bhutan team: the older one took the new ball and bowled medium pace, while his younger namesake was now given the chance to bowl his leg-spin. Aung Ko Ko got off the mark with a boundary as Myanmar reached their fifty in the 22nd over.
Aung Ko Ko gave several chances in his brief stay at the crease but he couldn't take advantage as he was caught at slip for 4 off Tenzin Wangchuk (jun) as Myanmar have collapsed to 51 for 5.
Opener Thu Ya Aung was looking composed and played another fine pull shot when the leg-spinner dropped short and Nima Gurung was taken off with one over to bowl with figures of 3 for 25 but Bhutan's return to medium pace did not bring any further wickets.
Bhutan were still searching for another wicket as Sagar Pradhan, another medium-pacer, was the eighth bowler to be used. Myanmar's total was mounting slowly with Thu Ya Aung being given solid support by Aung Kaung Myat.
Bhutan made a belated return to spin as Ugyen Tenzin became the ninth bowler used but this bowling change gave the Myanmar opener the chance to play his trade mark pull shot as two more boundaries took him to an excellent half-century and his team to the brink of three figures.
The return of Ugyen Dorji finally did the trick for Bhutan as Thu Ya Aung was caught at long-on for 53 as Myanmar lost their sixth wicket on 101.
Ugyen Dorji also claimed the next wicket as Sai Htet Wai was caught at leg slip. With 10 overs left in their innings Myanmar were 118 for 7.
Myanmar seemed content to try to play out their 50 overs as leg-spinner Tenzin Wangchuk (jun) and off-spinner Ugyen Dorji both completed their 10 over spells with only five runs scored from the previous five overs.
Nima Gurung returned to complete his excellent spell and it was left to the faster bowlers to complete the innings. Lwin Moe Aung cut a four before being bowled, while Ye Ko Ko Aung fell ht wicket. Myanmar just survived their 50 overs with nine wickets down with Aung Kaung Myat unbeaten on 21.
Myanmar did well to see out their innings after being reduced to 55 for 5 thanks to valiant contributions from opener Thu Ya Aung who hit nine fours in his 53, and Aung Kaung Myat but Bhutan would have been confident of reaching a target of 135 in 50 overs.
Bhutan's task was suddenly looking much harder as both openers were dismissed lbw. Rekash Pradhan fell to Sai Htet Wai's first ball and his partner Nar Bahadar suffered the same fate against Htet Lin Aung. Bhutan were in trouble on 5 for 2 after just 3 overs.
Bhutan have a fairly fragile batting line-up having been dismissed for 46 by Malidives the previous day while Myanmar were sensing a rare opportunity for victory over their rivals.
Myanmar's opening bowlers were keeping the pressure up on the Bhutan batsmen by bowling a good line and moving the ball away and Htet Lin Aung claimed the third wicket when he had Tenzin Wangchuk (jun) caught behind. The fourth wicket quickly followed in the same fashiion off Sai Htet Wai to leave the score on 21 for 4. Impressive stuff from Myanmar.
This could prove to be a famous day in Myanmar cricket history as Htet Lin Aung maintained his fine line to induce an edge from Dorjji Khandu for Thu Ya Aung to take his third catch behind the stumps. What a day he was having after his innings of 53.
Htet Lin Aung took himself off after seven overs with figures of 3 for 19 as he brought on Zin Hlaing to bowl his slow left-arm spin. Aung Kaung Myat who batted so responsibly earlier on replaced Sai Htet Sai who had taken two wickets for 11.
Bhutan hadn’t given up by any means as their fifty came up in the 18th over still with five wickets down, as Ugyen Tenzin was going for his shots after coming in at number 7.
The Bhutan sixth-wicket pair were still fighting hard as they brought the total to 63 for 5 by the halfway stage of the innings. 72 more runs were needed in 25 overs at a rate of less than 3 runs per over
Myanmar had been growing quiet in the field but they claimed the sixth wicket with the score on 66 as Ugyen Dorji was caught at long on off the bowling of off-spinner Aung Ko Ko.
Sai Htet Wai came back for a second spell as Myanmar searched for the next wicket. Ugyen Tenzin was looking solid for Bhutan. 83 for 6 from 30 overs.
Bhutan looked to be taking charge of the match as Ugyen Tenzin pulled a boundary to take him into the 30s but Sagar Pradhan pushed Aung Ko Ko hesitantly to silly mid on and Htet Lin Aung was able to bring himself on to try to wrap up the innings.
A change of tactics from Myanmar with gentle spin at both ends hoping for a mistake but Bhutan posted their hundred with 7 wickets down in the 36th over.
Htet Lin Aung bowled another testing over but Myanmar were beginning to concede far too many wides in such a close contest. Ko Ko Lin Thu finally delivered a straight ball to capture the eighth wicket and the match was still in the balance.
Htet Lin Aung bowled his final over and beat the outside edge of Ugyen Tenzin's bat but he conceded three wides to finish with figures of 3 for 28. Inexplicably number 10 Kinley Penjor went for a big hit off Ko Ko Lin Thu and was caught at long on as Bhutan lost their ninth wicket on 114.
Twenty were needed off the last 10 overs with the last pair at the crease. Ugyen Tenzin had been joined by Tenzin Wangchuk (sen) and anything could still have happened. Ugyen Tenzin moved on to 45* and the last man survived an over. 15 needed off 8 overs.
Sai Htet Wai returned to bowl a maiden against Ugyen Tenzin. Myanmar were appealing for everything against Tenzin Wangchuk (sen). 14 needed off 6 overs. Only a wide had come from the last two overs.
Sai Htet Wai's last over: Ugyen Tenzin took the single, Tenzin Wangchuk (sen) guided one to third man, but a no ball, wide and an over-throw were more costly for Myanmar.
Ko Ko Lin Thu started with two more wides but a straight ball ended the valiant innings of Ugyen Tenzin on 47 and Myanmar had won a close contest by six runs.
Both teams' innings had followed a similar course as Myanmar recovered from 55 for 5 and Bhutan from 23 for 5 but Myanmar just held their nerve to record a famous victory. Thu Ya Aung played the innings of the day but he was so nearly bettered by Ugyen Tenzin before he was last man out.
ACC U-19 Challenge 2013
Group B: Bhutan v Myanmar at Terdthai
MYANMAR WON BY SIX RUNS
Bhutan won the toss and elected to field
Myanmar: 134 for 9 off 50 overs (T.Aung 53; N.Gurung 3-24, U.Dorji 3-19)
Bhutan: 128 all out off 45.2 overs (U.Tenzin 47; H.Aung 3-28)
Man of the Match: Thu Ya Aung (Myanmar)
Filed December 9th, 2013