The top of the Group B table clash on Day 4 of the ACC U-19 Challenge in Bangkok saw the best of Oman’s cricket. Maldives were on top for the first hour, reducing Oman to 45 for 7 thanks to some pacey swing bowling from Leem Shafeeg and Mohammed Mabrook (3-14). But as soon as they tired, Oman were able to capitalize and thanks to Akshay Jathar (35 off 96) and Waseem Al Balushi (34 off 40) were able to get to 141. It was enough.
Coaches across the tournament have been frustrated by the batsmen they have i) not getting to the pitch of deliveries ii) playing across the line iii) playing daft punk strokes. After the failings of the top-order for all of the reasons above Akshay and Waseem simply played straight and went after anything loose. Maldives didn’t do too much wrong but leg-spinner Sunan Ali didn’t have the rhythm of his first game when he took 6-18 against Bhutan, and thus less grip, bounce and turn. Plus the AIT wicket was playing a lot slower than before. 23 wides were bowled too, pressure-relieving every one of them.
Oman’s 141, given their initial troubles, they’d happily settle for. Thing is, Maldives settled too. With half-an-hour to go for lunch they went into defense and even with the field up, didn’t make any attempt to get the innings off to a good start. Oman’s bowlers and fielders were in the face of the Maldivians and the wickets fell – for all of the reasons mentioned – though the dismissal of Rishwan – the hitter who plays for the senior team – was a special case.
Rishwan came in at 15 for 3 in the tenth over. A one-man demolition army, his first scoring stroke off his third ball was a straight drive for 6. Two balls later, in trying to repeat the stroke, he fell to the catch of the tournament, with Waseem Al Balushi running full tilt to his left, diving forward to take the catch two-handed in front of the sight-screen.
Leem Shafeeg was lbw next ball, the ball taking leg. Two balls later Ahmed Zaid who’d been in from the start, was bowled. Lunch was taken with Maldives at 21 for 5 off 11, Maldives with a desert to cross. “We bat down to number 9,” says coach Imad Ismail. They were going to need all of those batsmen.
Ibrahim gloved a catch behind off that man Waseem Al Balushi, the ball bouncing unexpectedly high at medium-pace. Saafee has something about him though, and played some authoritative strokes. Oman dropped several chances, Saafee included, but were still taking wickets and after 25 overs Maldives were 60 for 8, needing to score at 3.3 an over to win.
Oman crowded the bat, three close in to the spinners. Saafee fell for 37, caught at point, mistiming a drive and that was it.
ACC U-19 Challenge 2013
Group B: Maldives v Oman at AIT, Bangkok
OMAN WON BY 68 RUNS
Oman won the toss and chose to bat
Oman: 141 all out off 43.1 overs (A.Jathar 35, W.Al Balushi 34; M.Mabrook 3-14, M.Saafee 4-17)
Maldives: 73 all out off 27.2 overs (M.Saafee 37; W.Ali 4-11)
Man of the Match: Waseem Al Balushi (Oman)
Filed December 10th, 2013