Maldives faced Myanmar in Group B of the ACC U-19 Challenge Cup at Terdthai knowing that the winner would be going through to meet Singapore in the semi-finals after each side had already beaten Bhutan and lost to Oman in earlier group matches.
Maldives would have been considered favourites as they had heavily defeated Bhutan and almost caused a surprise against Oman but Myanmar knew they had a rare opportunity to reach the semi-finals of an ACC competition. In the end the match was fairly one-sided as Maldives won by 70 runs after being set on the path to victory by their openers who both batted well in very different styles.
The match was delayed by 30 minutes so the dampness in the pitch was allowed to dry out and Myanmar won the toss and asked Maldives to bat. Mohamed Rishwan and Ahmed Zaid looked rather tentative at the start following their team's batting collapse against Oman, but Mohamed Rishwan calmed their nerves when he hit over the top to record the first boundary of the innings.
Rishwan was beginning to look dangerous for Maldives as he hit a second boundary over extra-cover and Myanmar would soon regret dropping a simple catch at point as he proceeded to hit a no ball over mid on for four and to take full advantage of the free hit.
Myanmar would have been hoping for early wickets on winning the toss and inserting the opposition but this did not prove to be the case as Maldives reached 47 without loss in the first 10 overs with Rishwan punishing anything loose.
Myanmar were not taking their chances as Rishwan was dropped at deep mid-wicket as he continued to hit the ball powerfully. Opening partner Ahmed Zaid was batting more quietly but Rishwan hit his ninth four to bring him to his fifty.
Rishwan had already batted with success for the senior Maldives side in the ACC Elite Cup and Twenty20 competitions so is obviously a talented player. Thankfully for Myanmar, a catch finally stuck and he was caught at cover for 52 from 59 balls made out of an opening stand of 80.
Leg-spinner Aung Ko Ko then took his second wicket as he bowled Adam Nasif so left-hander Mohamed Saafee joined Ahmed Zaif at the crease. Maldives brought up their 100 in the 21st over with two wickets down.
Mohamed Saafee has also played for the senior Maldives team and top scored against Oman in the last match but he was given a life as left-arm spinner Zin Hlain dropped a caught and bowled chance. Maldives were well placed on 120 for 2 after 25 overs.
Myanmar heads were beginning to drop thanks to a dispiriting mixture of misfields and wides but they claimed their third wicket as Mohamed Saafee was bowled by Htet Ling Aung for 25.
Myanmar soon took their fourth wicket as captain Htet Ling Aung bowled his opposite number Ibrahim Nasanth for nought with the total on 150. Resolute opener Ahmed Zaid was still there having batted almost two hours to make 40 just as the batting powerplay was about to start.
The Maldives innings was running out of steam as Leem Shafeeg and Sunan Ali were both bowled as they pushed forward and finally Ahmed Zaid's marathon effort ended as he was caught at short cover for 45 from exactly 100 balls. With two wickets in an over Aung Ko Ko now had four wickets to his name and Myanmar had fought back well. Maldives were 181 for 7 with 10 overs left in their innings.
The excitement was mounting for Maldives as Aung Ko Ko was causing havoc with his leg breaks. Ibrahim Rizan was caught close to the wicket to give him his fifth wicket and then Ahmed Yaanis was bowled round his legs first ball. Hat-trick, hat-trick was the cry but last man Mohamed Mabrook just survived.
Aung Ko Ko finished his spell with outstanding figures of six for 32 from 10 overs, and the last wicket fell to a run out as Maldives were dismissed for 195 from 44.3 overs. Myanmar could be pleased with their efforts in the field after Maldives had reached 146 with only two wickets down, but a target of 196 in 50 overs would be a testing one.
Maldives opening bowlers Leem Shafeeg and Mohamed Mabrook were both given attacking fields with an array of slips but it was an in-swinging yorker from Mabrook which bowled Thu Ya Aung for 2 as Mynamar lost their first wicket on 5.
Mohamed Mabrook completed an excellent opening spell with figures of 4-2-4-1 but the task wasn't getting any easier for Myanmar as Maldives have an excellent bowling attack. Leg-spinner Sunan Ali who took 6 for 18 against Bhutan and left-arm spinner Mohamed Saafee who claimed 4 for 17 against Oman were now bowling in tandem as the first 10 overs brought only 20 runs.
Myanmar were still finding runs hard to come by but at least opener Myat Bo Bo Maung was able to hit a full toss from Sunan Ali for four as the batting side reached 34 for 1 after 15 overs.
At least Maldives were being forced to make bowling changes as Ahmed Zaid came on to bowl his off-breaks and Mohamed Saafee changed ends but Myat Bo Bo Maung undid all his good work by running himself out for 16 and worse was to follow as captain Htet Lin Aung hit a full toss into mid on's hands.
Matters were going from bad to worse for Myanmar as they lost their fourth wicket on 37 as Ko Ko Lin Thu's vigil ended on 5 from 50 balls when he was bowled by Mohamed Saafee who took a second wicket in his next over as Aung Ko Ko was stumped for 0.
Mohamed Saafee's third wicket soon followed as Htet Lin Oo was caught behind as a third batsman fell for nought. Myanmar reached 50 in the 26th over with six wickets down and Maldives were now overwhelming favourites for a place in the semi-finals.
Mohamed Saafee finished his 10 overs with the fine figures of 3 for 14 but a pair of leg-spinners were now bowling together and looked capable of bringing the Myanmar innings to a premature close. Sunan Ali had returned for a second spell and bowled Lwin Moe Aung while Ibrahim Rizan had Sai Htet Wai lbw with a quicker ball. Myanmar were 70 for eight in the 32nd over.
More encouraging for Myanmar had been the batting of Aung Kaung Myat who had came in at six wickets down and had soon taken over as his team's top-scorer as he reached 20 and at least forced Maldives to bring back opening bowler Mohamed Mabrook. Left-handed tail-ender Zin Hlaing was giving him solid support and they have now seen off Sunan Ali and the innings has reached the 40 over mark.
Another moral victory for Myanmar as Leem Shafeeg was brought back but it was opening batsman Ahmed Said who broke the ninth-wicket partnership with his off breaks as Aung Kaung Myat played on for 29 after hitting three fours and batting for more than an hour. The last pair saw their side safely to three figures and both were growing in confidence.
The last two in Myanmar's batting order were rather showing up the inadequacies in the top-order as they were both hitting boldy with 45 overs now bowled.
Adam Nasif finally took the last wicket as number 11 Ye Ko Ko Aung was stumped for an enterprising 15 with three fours. The last two wickets had added 55 as Myanmar could be commended on reaching a total of 125 after a poor start. Maldives won the match by 70 runs and will now face Singapore in the semi-finals.
Myanmar had started the day with a rare opportunity to reach the semi-final stage of an ACC tournament and in the final analysis the main difference between the two sides was the performance of Maldives’ two openers Mohamed Rishwan and Ahmed Zaid who shared a partnership of 80. Some consolation for Myanmar was the fact that Aung Ko Ko was made man of the match for his figures of 6 for 32 but disappointingly they never really looked capable of winning the match.
ACC U-19 Challenge 2013
Group B: Maldives v Myanmar at Terdthai
MALDIVES WON BY 70 RUNS
Myanmar won the toss and elected to field
Maldives: 195 all out off 44.3 overs (M.Rishwan 52, A.Zaid 45; K.Aung 6-32)
Myanmar: 125 all out off 46.1 overs (M.Saafee 3-14)
Man of the Match: Ahmed Zaid (Maldives)
Filed December 11th, 2013