ACC U-19 Challenge Cup Semi-Final
Bhutan v Maldives

Dilip Subba seals the deal and Bhutan have won by six runs

An absolutely gripping match, watched by a significant number of Chiang Mai's cricket fans saw Bhutan beat Maldives by six runs to clinch a place in the ACC U-19 Challenge Cup Final. "It was a shame either side had to lose," said ACC Development Officer Roger Binny, "both teams played some top-quality cricket."

The game was in the balance until the very end and it wasn't until Dilip Subba beat the forward lunge of Ismail Zaahy with just nine deliveries remaining, that the game was decided. Until then, thanks to some wonderfully composed strokeplay from the Maldives all-rounder Husham Ibrahim, the game looked like it could was going the other way.

Husham Ibrahim drives

Husham was a titan and on any other day his 62 and 1-22 along with a catch and general excellence in the field would have been the outstanding performance but Bhutan to a man have all Husham's fire and desire, if not quite his explosiveness, and as a unit are very hard to beat.

Thinley Jamtsho gets his first wicket, Jilwaz Rasheed
caught at slip by Tandin Wangchuk

Husham was distraught afterwards, for with his fall, caught behind flashing at the last ball of Dilip Subba's comeback over, the 47th of the innings, Bhutan sensed they were back in the game. Husham's first scoring stroke had been a flat-batted 6 through cover and throughout his innings (until the end that is) he showed excellent shot-selection. He looks a superb prospect. When he fell with the score on 171, Maldives needed just 12 more runs with four wickets in hand and 18 balls in which to get them.

Bhutan had Thinley Jamtsho. Bhutan had Dilip Subba. Thinley himself had done wonders with the bat in Bhutan's innings, taking the fight to the Maldives bowlers after they had Bhutan at 34 for 3 with Jigme Singye back in the tent for a duck. Now, with ball in hand he struck with searing pace, taking two wickets in the Maldives's 48th over. Game on. With Maldives on 172 for 8 Bhutan were now in the ascendant.

All the Chiang Mai-stagers watching on from the boundary, felt that the game could still go either way. Dilip Subba, who had been having an absolute nightmare in the nets with no-balls and had been dropped for the previous match was playing this one, no-ball affliction cured, dancing action and bandanna all back on display. Along with some pretty quick deliveries.

He had terrific rhythm today. Husham had been beaten for bounce, Hassan Ibrahim was beaten for pace. 176 for 9. Ismail Zaahy was bowled next ball.

"Maldives will bounce back," said their coach Afzal Ahmed. They have considerable talent, they will feel they lost this match by six runs not because of their batting or fielding but because they bowled 41 wides. Even their three no balls made a difference. "That is part of the learning process and why we have such high-stakes games," said Roger Binny. "Everything in cricket matters, everything."

Bhutan's coach Damber Singh Gurung was a mightily relieved man afterwards, "The boys never gave up and never made it easy for the Maldives who played really well. We won a tough match by sticking to our gameplan and this is ideal preparation for the Final."

ACC U-19 Challenge Cup Semi-Final
Bhutan v Maldives at Chiang Mai Gymkhana
Maldives won the toss and chose to bat
Bhutan: 182 after 47.3 overs (Tashi 34, T. Jamtsho 47; A. Hassan 3-11)
Maldives: 176 after 48.4 overs (H. Ibrahim 62; D. Subba 3-35, T. Jamtsho 4-29)
Man of the Match: Thinley Jamtsho (Bhutan)


Pictures courtesy of Cricket Association of Thailand

Filed January 16 2008