ACC U-19 Challenge Cup
Bhutan v Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia played some dashing cricket to absolutely hammer Bhutan in the ACC U-19 Challenge top of the table clash at the Prem Oval, winning by 6 wickets with 21 overs to spare.

"The boys were good in all departments," said their coach, former Pakistan batsman Mansoor Akhtar, "especially fielding which makes me very happy. Fielding is very important."

Mansoor Akhtar only met his team for the first time in Chiang Mai, but he's impressed by what he's seen and the team really do look like potential Challenge Cup winners. And they're loving playing on grass, particularly the Prem Oval surface. "We play all our cricket on concrete," said Saudi fast-bowler Sufyan, "with sandy outfields so we're very happy to play here. We have been enjoying sliding on the grass for the first time."

Saudi Arabia struggled in their first match of the tournament at the Chiang Mai Gymkhana, a slower, lower surface than Prem, edging out victory against the Maldives, but they really played to their best today. In the end they were coasting it, captain Mohammad Imran and Hussain Anwar playing some powerful shots to all parts of the ground. A soft-spoken teenager, with Inzamam-ish build and Jayawardene-like strokes Imran dominated a stand of 86 with the audacious Anwar.

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Imran

Bhutan bowled well in patches, Thinley Jamtsho showing lots of promise with his pace and attitude and given a bit more coaching will be an absolute star. He came charging in even when the game was all but lost for Bhutan to have Hussain caught behind but really he and all the other Bhutanese bowlers were up against it from the start. Their batsmen let them down.

Kencho Norbu is beaten and Bhutan lose their fourth wicket
at the start of the 11th over

Jigme Singye apart who made a watchful 47, before he hit a full toss to cover,  none of the batsmen ever looked like getting on top of the Saudi bowlers. Plus there were two cataclysmic run-outs. Running between the wickets has been the weakest part of the Bhutanese game so far and may well cost them dearly in the matches ahead.

Saudi Arabia's Hussain Anwar hits his second six

Saudis bowlers look sharp, their batsmen look hungry, their fielders look lively. They'll be tough to beat. They meet China in the semi-final.

Mohammad Imran

ACC U-19 Challenge Cup
Bhutan v Saudi Arabia at Prem Oval
Bhutan won the toss and chose to bat
Bhutan: 158 off 39.3 overs (J. Singye 47; N. Anwar 4-41)
Saudi Arabia: 160 for 4 off 29 overs (M. Imran 74*, H. Anwar 31)
Man of the Match: Mohammad Imran (Saudi Arabia)


Pictures courtesy Prem Oval

Filed January 15 2008