ACC U-19 Challenge Cup 2009 - Thailand v Bahrain

THAILAND ARE TERRIFIC

Thailand's Vichanath Singh and Wanchana Uisuk

It's credit to Thailand's development in recent years that with eight ethnic Thais in their side who had no knowledge of cricket at the start of this century, they should have gone into this match on a level footing with Bahrain who are filled with cricketers who've imbibed cricket with their mother's milk. It's credit to them too, that they won a game which was an absolute arm-wrestle from start to finish.

Both teams came into this match with a win, knowing that victory was likely to have them finish top of their group and thus avoid a semi-final clash with strong Kuwait. Today Bahrain's bowlers were straighter and more threatening than they were against Maldives, accurate and oppressive. Pranav Parakh and Thanathit Jeerapanthawong put on another solid opening partnership for Thailand, until Parakh's off-stump was clipped by an inswinger from Maaz Zafar. Some effort balls from Sameer Yousaf were really climbing off a length on a Prem track that was a little slower than in previous years.

Tight for Thanathit
Picture by Danny Bowes

Thailand were steady throughout their innings, never really able to cut loose, not quite trusting themselves to drive or cut with the full-flourish of the bat. Plenty outside off-stump were left alone. "I told the boys to play 50 overs, if they did, 200 runs will come," said their coach Ziaul Hoque.

Bahrain themselves didn't make it as easy as they did against Maldives for the opposition to make runs. Against Maldives they gave away 40 extras in just 33 overs, today it was 21 in 46.

Thailand passed 50 in the 18th over for the loss of two wickets, Weerachai the next to go after Parakh, snaffled down the leg-side to a good catch by the Bahrain 'keeper. A platform was being built, the question was whether the score would really start mounting.

Wanchana Uisuk
Picture by Danny Bowes

Thanathit Jeerapanthawong, frustrated, was bowled by Sameer Yousaf, swinging across the line. Fourth out with the score on 62, he'd been in from the start and his 22 had taken 67 balls. Wanchana Uisuk had played well in the opening match against Maldives and he continued his good form today. He's come up through the ranks for Thailand, playing at all levels, and has the confidence that comes with ability and maturity. He took 16 off a Danish Ali over, with the long, swinging arc of his backlift and a sky-pointing follow-through sandwiching a meaty connection.

Striding ahead, Thailand's Wanchana Uisuk
Picture by Danny Bowes

Wanchana fell, going for his 50 with a big shot, his head going up in the air and the stumps falling over. Wickets fell steadily at the other end, as Thailand were unable to assert themselves, Bahrain sticking to their task. Sameer Yousaf was the pick of a good bowling performance, bowling all his overs in three spells, starting with six on the trot, with considerable pace and accuracy. Bahrain's Sameer Minhas in particular, showed how much grip their was in the pitch, Thailand's three spinners were licking their fingers in anticipation well before lunch.

Thailand struggled to 162, victims of some good bowling (straight too - five catches to the wicket-keeper Sankarsh Suresh) and a defensive mentality. Question was whether it'd be enough. In one innings against Maldives, Bahrain's captain Numan Yousaf had shown himself to be the best batsman in the tournament so far, playing a range of strokes of power and authority. The rest of his team's lineup, in beating Maldives by seven wickets, was as yet unproven. Thailand's bowling, in dismissing Maldives for 55 was proven. In pace and spin. To win, they'd have to take all Bahraini wickets. There was no other way. With the bat Thailand may be overly cautious, with the ball they are rampantly positive.

Bahrain's Sameer Yousaf, 4-19 v Thailand
Picture by Danny Bowes

Bahrain's Numan Yousaf looks back anxiously after edging the ball
Picture by Danny Bowes

Daniel Leach, fresh from Leatherhead, got the breakthrough for Thailand. Racing in from the Garden End with a thirty-yard run-up, he had Numan Yousaf caught behind with one that spat up. Thailand's U-19 cricketers have never celebrated so much as they did then. Wanchana Uisuk then trapped Yaser Eftikhar in front and Thailand were ahead early. Leach created a couple more chances and then had Sameer Yousaf caught behind in his third over.

Wanchana Uisuk captures a Bahrain wicket
Picture by Danny Bowes

After 10 overs Bahrain were 54 for 3 and swinging the game a little bit back their way. Thailand's captain Vichanath Singh brought himself on, hoping his left-arm loop and guile would contain the batsmen on the way to taking wickets. It worked. The next five overs brought just seven runs as he and Ishan Kalra with his fast-medium put a brake on Bahrain's scoring.

Cyrus D'Souza played well around the chances he gave but a great catch turned the game back Thailand's way when Noppon Senamontree pouched D'Souza at square leg. Just 17 runs came off 10 overs during this time, for the loss of another Bahraini wicket. Thailand's coach, who had been scowling, started to turn his frowns upside down. Senamontree may not have got the Man of the Match award but it was his contributions in the field (one catch, one wicket, one run-out) that really turned the screws on Bahrain and he is the kind of quietly charismatic cricketer who does much to raise the performance a team. Playing for his country has allowed him access to a university education in Thailand and one can be expect he'll ace that too.

Bahrain's Yaser Eftikhar hits on the up
Picture by Danny Bowes

Vichanath Singh bowled beautifully for his 2-9 off 10 consecutive overs as did Senamontree in his spell. Bahrain's batsmen struggling with turf and spin, couldn't get the ball away though a stand by the last-wicket pair. 100 was passed in the 35th over as was the last of the Bahrain resistance.

"A great win for us, I thought the boys played really well. It was never easy and though sometimes we tried too hard, it's better to try too hard than to give up. And we never ever gave up," said Thailand's captain Vichanath Singh.

ACC U-19 Challenge 2009
Group B Thailand v Bahrain at Prem Oval
THAILAND WON BY 59 RUNS
Thailand won the toss and chose to bat
Thailand: 162 all out off 46 overs (W.Uisuk 46; S.Yousaf 4-19)
Bahrain: 103 off 34.5 overs (Y.Eftikhar 31; J.Bhagwat 3-7)
Man of the Match: Wanchana Uisuk (Thailand)
Scorecard

Tournament page