Three of the four semi-finalists in ACC U-19 Challenge had already been decided with Singapore and Oman winning their groups and Maldives finishing second in Group B. Iran had the chance to qualify for the semi-finals if they could beat Singapore in their match at AIT or at least remain ahead of China in second place in Group A.
The calculators were out to determine the net run-rates and the score Iran would have to achieve to hold on to second place which proved to be 130 once Singapore had batted first and reached a total of 194. A slow start for Iran was quickly turned around by an innings of 48 from Afshin Tirehdast but Iran fell well short as they were dismissed for 78 with Singapore gaining victory by 116 runs and China reaching the semi-finals.
With Singapore winning the toss and batting first, the decision of whether to bat or bowl first was taken out of Iran's hands but at least they would know the target needed either to win or simply to qualify. Iran had managed to bowl out Singapore for 155 the first time the sides had met but Singapore started well here, scoring 26 in the first five overs.
Iran quickly turned to spin and changed their wicket-keeper as Saeid Mollazeh took over behind the stumps after bowling two overs. Singapore lost their first wicket as Archit Goenka was run out for 22 but looked comfortably placed as the fifty came up in the 10th over.
Hossein Lashari surprised Singapore in the previous game with the quality of his left-arm spin as he took six wickets and Iran were hoping for a repeat performance. He claimed the wicket of Vaikunth Sheshadri but Varun Sivaram responded by hitting nicely to the extra-cover boundary. Sinapore were 69 for 2 in 17 overs at the end of the first hour's play.
Iran claimed another wicket again by virtue of a run out with Navin Param out for 13 with the score on 92 for 3. Abhiraj Singh, fresh from scoring 84 against China, joined his captain who was batting with great care against Iran's spinners as Singapore's 100 came up in the 23rd over.
Iran took an important wicket as Abhiraj Singh was lbw to off-spinner Afshin Tirehdast for just 6 and leg-spinner Masood Jayeseh is also bowling well as Iran were trying their utmost to restrict Singapore to a manageable total.
Iran required a third wicket-keeper as Faramarz Shahbaksh took over from Saeid Mollazeh who had been hit by a return as Iran attempted yet another run out. His dramatic exit on a stretcher may have distracted Prateek Mishra who was lbw to Masood Jayazeh with the total on 119 for 5.
The first ball of the batting powerplay, delayed as usual until the 36th over, accounted for Varun Sivaram whose patient innings ended on 46 with just 3 fours as he was lbw to Hossein Lashari to leave Singapore on 136 for 6 and in danger of not using up the full 50 overs.
Hossein Lashari finished his spell with figures of 3 for 23 in his 10 overs but Iran still had to take the last three Singapore wickets with six overs left.
Masood Jayazeh took the eighth wicket as he bowled Karthik Suresh for 15 to leave Singapore on 174 for 8 and the Iranians were still hurling the ball at each other as more injury time was required but this liveliness in the field saw Masood hold a caught and bowled after mid-off had initially dropped the catch.
The Iranian leg-spinner finished with figures of 3 for 44 and captain Ahmad Shadzehisarjou brought himself on to bowl the final over but predictably the last wicket came by way of a run out. A misfield on the boundary saw the last pair attempt a third run , the third choice wicket-keeper collected a wide throw and made a direct hit and an eventful ball was completed by the umpire signalling one short. Singapore were bowled out for 194 in 49.2 overs.
Iran started their reply with a place in the semi-finals as their main aim. 195 in 50 overs was their victory target but a total of 130 would be enough for Iran to remain in second place in Group A ahead of China on net run-rate.
Iran quickly lost their first wicket as Javed Tarkhan was lbw to Brigu Iyer without scoring with the total only on 3.
Interestingly the top three in Iran's batting order had all kept wicket in Singapore's innings but the second wicket soon followed as Faramarz Shahbakhsh played on against Karthik Suresh. Iran were 6 for 2 in 5 overs.
Wahab Khursand was man of the match in Iran's victory over China as they were able to recover from a position of 4 for 3 but he couldn’t repeat that level of performance as he was bowled by Brigu Iyer for nought as Singapore's opening bowlers continued to look threatening with the new ball.
Iran were inching forward at a rate of one run an over over the first 12 overs when left-arm spinner Abhiraj Singh was introduced into the attack and he struck in his first over as Ahmad Shadzehisarjou was lbw for 1 as Abhiraj started with a wicket maiden.
Abhiraj had already taken 11 wickets in his three previous matches, five of them in the first match against Iran, and he soon had another victim as opener Saied Mollazeh was bowled attempting a rare attacking shot. New batsman Afshin Tirehdast was more successful as he hit Abhiraj for the first boundary of the innings.
Afshin had clearly decided it was time for a change of approach as he was going for his shots, hitting leg-spinner Simar Miglani high over mid-wicket for the first six of the match.
His counter-attack continued as he off drove Aditya Dudharsyan for four then top-edged a hook shot which just fell safely and also reached the boundary. Iran had doubled their run-rate and passed the 38 they made in the first match against Singapore but Ali Radar was run out and Masood Jayazeh was caught at cover to leave Iran on 47 for 7.
Afshin Tirehdast was keeping this match alive single-handedly as he hit leg-spinner Simar Miglani for four sixes in an over to take him on to 47. Three were hit over mid-wicket and one over long-off.
The unfortunate leg-spinner was taken off and opening bowler Brigu Iyer brought back with figures of 2 for 5. Would Afshin still go for his shots or play more conservatively? He was soon bowled going for a big drive but his innings of 48 from 26 balls with 3 fours and 5 sixes was certainly the most memorable contribution of the day.
Iran's ninth wicket fell on 76 as Omid Dorzadeh was well caught by Simar Miglani off Navin Param and the leg-spinner was brought back and finished off the innings with a quicker ball that bowled last man Ali Jadgal.
Iran were bowled out for 78 and fell well short of their target of 130 to finish second in Group A so China qualified for the semi-finals where they will face Oman at AIT, while Singapore finished with a perfect record of four wins out of four and will meet Maldives in the other semi-final played at Terdthai. Iran will have to make do with the opportunity to play Myanmar in the fifth and sixth place play-off at Harrow School.
Afshin Tirehdast was given the man of the match award for his blistering innings of 48 from 26 balls which so nearly changed the course of the match and he was also one of a trio of Iranian spinners who bowled well in Singapore's innings.
In the day’s other match at Terdthai Oman were far too strong for Bhutan as Oman won by 167 runs after posting a total of 276 for 9 in their 50 overs thanks to a third-wicket partnership of 155 between Gayash Dias and Shuaib Al Balushi. Bhutan finished fourth in Group B and so bow out of the competition in seventh place, an unfortunate development for a side that had reached the semi-finals last time.
ACC U-19 Challenge 2013
Group A: Singapore v Iran at AIT
SINGAPORE WON BY 116 RUNS
Singapore won the toss and chose to bat
Singapore: 194 all out off 49.2 overs (V.Sivaram 46; H.Lashari 3-23, M.Jayezeh 3-44)
Iran: 78 all out off 27 overs (A.Tirehdast 48; B.Iyer 3-6)
Man of the Match: Afshin Tirehdast (Iran)
Filed December 12th, 2013