ACC U-19 Challenge Cup
China v Maldives

China came agonizingly close to recording their second international victory, their first being against Myanmar at U-15 level last year, against the Maldives at Chiang Mai Gymkhana. In the end they fell 34-runs short but for a while, with Zhang Yufei and Xu Jiabin at the crease, it looked as if they just might make it.

"China are an OK team," said the Maldives's coach Afzal Ahmed ruefully, "but we bowled far too many wides!"

Maldives bowled 31 wides and were their useful profligate selves with the ball. They have talent to spare in the side and have already beaten Bhutan who they play in the semi-final but if they keep making things easy for their opponents they're going to lose a lot more matches than they win.

Up against China, themselves finding their way at this level, Maldives got away with it. Husham Ibrahim got away with scooping a chance to short fine-leg too, the wicket-keeper Cui Menglong getting right underneath the catch only to have fine-leg run right into him. Husham was dropped later too, a more difficult chance, making 45 before Zhang Yufei trapped him right in front.

China's opener Chen Zhifa gets tested

China themselves have a 'wide' problem too but their bowling is sound and has increasing variety with Zhao Xui bowling his off-spin competently. As batsmen they have a way to go and play pace better than spin but handled Maldives's Mohmed Akram off-breaks well today. At 91 for 5 with Zhang Yufei and Xu Jiabin going well and just 3 runs an over wanted, Husham had Xu popping up a catch and though Zhang soldiered on, once Husham bowled him for 35, to put China on 126 for 8, the chase was all but over. A couple of batsmen short and run-chase pacing knowledge lacking short they just couldn't close out the game. Husham was an absolute tyro for Maldives, bowling with fire and fervour.

The Maldives were run ragged at times, here
Husham Ibrahim slides to save a boundary

"China played really well and at one point looked like they were going to win it," said China's Development Officer Aminul Islam who was watching at Gymkhana. They're bound to win one soon.

ACC U-19 Cup
China v Maldives at Chiang Mai Gymkhana
China won the toss and elected to field
Maldives: 168 off 44.5 overs (H. Ibrahim 45)
China: 134 off 43.2 overs (Z. Yufei 35; H. Ibrahim 4-12)
Man of the Match: Husham Ibrahim (Maldives)


Pictures courtesy of Eric Little

Filed January 15 2008