China and Iran look like they're establishing a fine cricketing rivalry. In the second match between them in the group stage of the ACC U-19 Challenge in Bangkok, Iran levelled the scores with a 31-run victory. Yet, "it was a match we can't say they played better than us, we had it in us to win it but made some critical errors," says China's U-19 coach former Bangladesh international Monjurul Islam.

China made an excellent start after Iran chose to bat, having the Gulf nation two down before the end of the first over thanks to pace and bounce from Hu Gaofeng, but then it started to slip. Literally. Three chances were dropped, most crucially that of Wahab Khursand who went on to make a battling 41 off 78 (three 4s and one 6). A run-out early on, when Iran were at their most jittery was missed too.

China's bowlers were steady and none were collared but pressure-easing wides and byes (30 extras in all in the innings) were conceded and Iran's eventual 110 could have been much less.

China went into bat with 45 minutes to go before lunch and faced an early storm. Lin Zhengpei was out first ball to have them at 11 for 2 and then Masood Jayezeh (after dropping a sitter on the leg side), held an absolute screamer at point to dismiss the dangerous Song Yangyang. Iran fielded well, with terrific intensity, and in the last over before the interval, stylish left-hander Qing Peng was run out to have China going in at 30 for 4.

Still not out of it, and with big wicket-keeper batsman Tian Haiyang - 49 against Singapore yesterday - a win was still possible. Iran have good spinners though, they toss the ball up and thus find turn and bounce off a full length. Afshin Tirehdast did just that, and a big inside edge castled Tian when he was on 19 (36 balls, two 6s). China were 66 for 7 in the 30th over and with Tian went there chance of victory and a guaranteed place in the semi-final against Oman on Saturday.

Iran have to beat Singapore tomorrow in their last group match or hope that, if beaten, their net run-rate is superior to China's if they are to advance to semi-finals.

ACC U-19 Challenge 2013

Group A: Iran v China at AIT
Iran won the toss and chose to bat
Iran: 110 all out off 40.1 overs (W.Khursand 41; G.Hu 3-13, Y.Song 4-25)
China: 79 all out off 39.2 overs (O.Dorzadeh 3-8, W.Khursand 3-11)
Man of the Match: Wahab Khursand (Iran)

Tournament page

Filed December 11th, 2013