Oman’s young cricketers are through to the ACC U-19 Challenge 2013 Final, having beaten China by seven wickets in the semi-final at AIT Bangkok. On a scorching day, leavened only by a breeze in the afternoon, Oman’s quality bowlers took the game away from an improving China, the spinners to the fore.

From the first ball of the China innings, a sumptuous on drive to the sightscreen, it looked like China were up for the contest. The north Bangkok wicket a touch sweaty after the covers had been taken off, the outfield a little damp in the first hour making boundaries hard to hit. Nevertheless, Song Yangyang, an Asian Games and a season in Australia behind him played that first stroke which had onlookers applauding and then proved himself strong on the back foot too. Oman normally so noisy, were quietened in the field

Oman’s captain Shreyas Malhotra brought himself on from the Engineering End from the eight over and the game changed. There was grip and turn, given the state of the pitch and China’s batsmen not as certain against spin as they are with pace. Shreyas himself bowled Song Yangyang, playing back to a ball that spun in (21 off 29 balls, three 4s) and from 25 for 0 China were 32 for 4 five overs later, three of them falling to the off- spinner.

The big man, the hitter of soaring sixes, Tian Haiyang came in with the innings resting on his shoulders. Another wicket fell on the same score. Haiyang edged left-arm spinner Waseem Ali just short of slip before he got off the mark and was then dropped on 2 at long-on from a full-blooded drive. The innings was teetering on Haiyang’s shoulders but he knuckled down.

Oman’s spinners bowled well, wicket to wicket and didn’t push it through, the tall boys with their high actions giving the ball every opportunity to turn. Waseem Ali frequently beat the outside edge and could perhaps have benefited from pitching it more on middle and leg. There were four round the bat at one stage, as Oman pressed for the breakthrough.

58 for 5 at the half-way stage. China started running well, testing the fielders. China were inching along, only attacking the loose ball, of which there were few. A high-full-toss was swung over the midwicket fielder for Haiyang’s first boundary in the 27th over, to take him into double figures off his 46th delivery. The big-hitter was playing very sensibly.

However, with the partnership between Wang Jing and Haiyang on 49 (off 65 balls) a tiring Haiyang holed out to long-on. And just two runs later Jing was out, cutting off a length, the ball taking the top-edge to slip. The last three wickets added 13 runs, to have China 96 all out in the 39th over were China, a far better side than before with the bat though the perennial inexperience against spin on turf remains. Nine fell to the Omani spinners, Shreyas Malhotra taking 5-22.

China’s coach, former Bangladesh international Monjurul Islam, would have preferred 120 at least, but ever the optimistic realist said during the interval, “it’s now a 10-ball game. China’s bowlers just need 10-wicket taking deliveries between now and the end.”

Oman started well, playing within themselves, forgoing any extravagant shots even with the field inside the circle. China’s bowlers kept plugging away and pushed as hard as they could in the field. There was off-spin from the start with Song Yangyang and he took two in two balls in the 14th over, the ball not deviating much off the straight, Oman’s batsmen just played down the wrong line. Oman went into lunch on 50 for 3 after 17 overs. The hard-hitting Gayash Dias 15* at lunch, the key batsman.

Gayash’s first stroke after lunch was a pull for. With 11 wanted he was missed by square leg running to his left and then survived a stumping chance next ball before cutting the next ball toward the boundary and then hammering another full toss through the midwicket gap.

Oman will play Singapore in the Final, after they beat Maldives by nine wickets in the other semi-final at Terdthai.

ACC U-19 Challenge 2013

SF2: China v Oman at AIT Bangkok
China won the toss and chose to bat
China: 96 all out off 38.5 overs (S.Malhotra 5-22)
Oman: 97 for 3 off 27.5 overs (G.Dias 36*)
Man of the Match: Shreyas Malhotra (Oman)

Tournament page

Filed December 14th, 2013