ACC U-19 Challenge Cup
Bhutan v Maldives

When the Maldives were good they were very, very good, when they were bad they were very, very bad. Against Bhutan at the Prem Oval their good qualities – dynamic batting, aggressive bowling, sharp fielding – prevailed and they ran out winners by 21 runs.

Bhutan had their chances, many of them, but just couldn't close out the match. Bowling their overs a little slowly cost them dearly too, as chasing Maldives's 245, they only had 48 overs in which to do so.

Bhutan survive this time, but three other batsmen
were run-out by the Maldives

A 128-run-partnership for the opening wicket between Maldives's captain Ahmed Hassan (76 off 111) and Jilwaz Rasheed (51 off 77)   set up the Maldives but Bhutan dropped them both early on in their innings. Seven chances were missed in all and delaying the introduction of the spinners (as well as the 33 wides) not only allowed the batsmen to settle and play their shots with impunity on a hard, true surface but slowed down the over rate considerably. In-depth research by the ACC match referees has shown that regarding wides, dropped catches, lack of spin bowlers – the teams which overcome two of these handicaps tend to win.

The game was close and as it went on every action mattered.

Mihusan Hamid hits out for the Maldives

Maldives gifted some late-innings wickets to Bhutan and whereas at one stage a total of 260 looked possible, they had to settle for 245. A little complacency cost them too, as they set out to defend what they felt was a big total. But Bhutan have match-savvy and in Manoj Adhikari their wicket-keeper opener, have a batsman of some quality. Plus, the Prem Oval has a lightning-fast outfield.

Maldives's Lasith Malinga, Husham Ibrahim

"We had chances to win," said Bhutan's coach Damber Singh Gurung. That they did. And though Maldives themselves bowled 50 wides, they bowled enough quality deliveries and fielded well enough to never allow the Bhutanese batsmen any freedom. Bhutan managed just 13 fours in their innings, Maldives hit 29. Bhutan's captain Jigme Singye was run-out looking for 2, with the score on 123 in the 28th over and with the run-rate mounting, Manoj Adhikari who had batted with great composure fell to a super catch at deep-backward point trying to force the pace. The other batsmen all did their best but the catches and run-outs kept coming.

The Maldives really played well in patches and have shown that they have the batting and bowling to trouble any side. "It was our first ever international U-19 victory," said Samad Faiz the Maldives coach, "this will make big news back home."

ACC U-19 Challenge Cup
Bhutan v Maldives, Prem Oval
Bhutan won the toss and elected to field
Maldives: 245 for 8 off 50 overs (A.Hassan 76, J. Rasheed 51, M. Hamid 41; T.A. Wangchuk 3-38, S. Luitel 3-33)
Bhutan: 224 after 46.5 overs (M. Adhikari 64; J. Rasheed 3-40)
Man of the Match: Ahmed Hassan (Maldives)


Pictures courtesy of Prem Oval

Filed January 13 2008