ACC U-19 Challenge Cup 2009 - Thailand v Iran

THAILAND WIN A TIGHT ONE

It was going to be a good battle this, between two sides whose bowlers have defended low totals in the competition so far. A win for Iran would get them into the semi-finals, a loss for Thailand would be a confidence-cracking result which would hurt them as they approached the knock-out stage. “So we wanted to win, no doubt. No relaxing,” said their coach Ziaul Hoque. Thailand weren’t quite at their best in the field today. Nevertheless, they were good enough to beat Iran by four wickets at the Prem Oval.

Daniel Leach and Ishan Kalra opened the bowling for Thailand, they’ve been getting early breakthroughs every match so far. Kalra was the more dangerous, in better rhythm than Leach and he got the first breakthrough, beating Balanchi through the gate, off an inside edge. Sajed Raeisi came in against the pace, wearing just a cap. Sign of confidence on a bouncy track, and it was justified. Raeisi marshalled things while at the crease, calling for runs when others would hesitate and working the ball around the field in ways others Thailand have faced not been able to.

Wanchana Uisuk, initially was a stiffer version of his normally fluid self, bowling a sequence of wides and no-balls in his opening twelve-ball over. As soon as he gave Raeisi one in his reach, the batsman cut clinically behind point. With Iran on 47 for 1 after 6 overs, Thailand’s captain Vichanath Singh called for a mid-pitch huddle and came on himself for the next over from the Garden End. With his left-arm spin he induced two edges off Vahid Balouchi straight away, one just wide of slip the other dropped behind. Balouchi was dropped by the ‘keeper again off Wanchana next over, but his charmed life ended when he was trapped in front two balls later.

Iran did their best to keep the scoreboard ticking over but lost wickets regularly

Vichanath Singh struck an important blow having Sajed Raeisi caught at slip and Iran’s fallibility against spin, on turf, was exposed. Not their fault, they just don’t see any of it in practice or matchplay in Tehran and Baluchistan. Confirmed when Naeim Bameri was bowled by Noppon Senamontree in the next over. Iran now 62 for 3 in the 14th over.

The usually immaculate Senamontree wasn’t at his best today, with a few full tosses too many but with Singh and off-spinner Jai Bhagwat operating at the other end, Iran were not given too many easy runs.

After 20 overs Iran were 84 for 6 and crawled to 90 five overs later. All but one of the Thai fielders were in the circle with the tailenders in as Thailand looked to choke the life out of the Iranian innings. If anything, they should have been smothering them even more. Roy Dias once said to us, “it’s when you have a team by the throat that you should stab them in the heart.” Winners need that ruthless streak. Vichanath Singh finished his quota at the end of the 36th over, having taken 2-18 with his loop, dip, bounce and turn. Iran were 114 for 7 at this point, staging a bit of a recovery with Ali Narouei and the hobbled Aref Raeisi at the crease.

Aref Raeisi has to go

Raeisi fell with the score on 118, beaten by Kalra’s pace. If Iran reached 150, their seam-bowlers would have something to work with. They didn’t, being all out for 133 in the 40th over, their inexperience at this level showing by their having foregone the Batting Powerplay.

Iran’s bowlers have fought tooth and nail for their team and their fielders have held some excellent catches. Thailand weren’t going to have it easy.

Thanathit Jeerapanthawong and Pranav Parakh have been the best opening pair in the competition so far and capitalised on some initially unthreatening bowling. Ali Narouei spurned a caught and bowled chance from Parakh with his second delivery and then had Thanathit bowled three balls later only to have umpire De Souza signal a no ball because Iran didn’t have enough fielders in the circle. Iran appealed for anything they could as often as they dared and if games were won on appeals on they’d have walked it. As it was, they walked a very fine line with the umpires and match referee.

Thanathit was irrefutably bowled just before lunch which Thailand took at 37 for 1 after 8 overs. A whole afternoon remaining with which to score the runs and Iran with time to regroup.

Aref Raeisi – the hero against Bahrain at the death in Iran’s eight-run win over Bahrain – took Daniel Leach’s wicket with his first ball, caught at backward point. He ambles up to the crease, slower than he should be for such a tall broad-shouldered man (and he bats with a runner), yet time after time lands on the seam and does enough to induce false strokes from the batsmen uncertain how to attack the ball. He slips in a faster yorker once in a while to keep the batsmen honest, and bowling his overs straight through made things difficult for Thailand all the way.

They have game-sense along with gamesmanship do the Iranian bowlers and Ali Narouei beat Jai Bhagwat with a fast-full delivery after a couple of slower balls just on the same length. A little bit of swing, a little bit of pace, a little bit of bounce, Iran’s bowlers mixed it all up and batting even on the Prem track wasn’t easy.

Wanchana Uisuk came in next and much depended on him, he’s been in peerless form for Thailand this tournament, the one batsmen whose taken the attack to the bowlers. Today he bided his time, playing several strokes of authority interspersed with solid defense. But he’s young. And Raeisi’s quite a bit older. He tried a big shot after being tormented by a series of deliveries on leg-stump which just wobbled away and paid the price, out for 7 off 23 balls.

Little Witsakorn Thapthimthai joined Pranav Parakh, who’d been in from the start and together they took Thailand past the half-way mark in runs needed and overs remaining. If they could stay together, frustrate Aref Raeisi and his captain Abdolvahab Ebrahimpour. Witsakorn was dropped when on 5, causing Abdolvahab to hurl his cap to the ground in frustration. All the while Parakh, head over the ball, stroked, nudged and deflected his way to a very significant score. “Singles would get them there,” said ACC Development Officer for Thailand Aminul Islam, “singles are good enough in this situation.

Pranav Parakh

Things were quiet in the Thailand tent. Their coach, normally the most voluble of men, was silent, gripped by a tension every Thai supporter was feeling.

Iran tried hard, but as Thailand passed 100 in the 28th over, still for the loss of only four wickets, Iran’s shoulders started slumping. Aref Raeisi was rested after seven overs, having taken 2-23, and Iran’s captain Abdolvahab brought himself back on for one last thrust.

Parakh suddenly, somehow, had a rush of blood to the head and was stumped by a yard off a Salman Gorgij leg-break. He’d made 41 off 81 and his partnership with Witsakorn had been worth 43 off 56 deliveries as Thailand were now on 108 for 5 with more than 20 overs remaining to get 26 runs.

Iran sensed an opening. Ishan Kalra, perhaps the ideal player for Thailand in this situation came in. Witsakorn – who plays his cricket in Australia – hustled singles and played strongly off his legs. Aref Raeisi came back on at the Garden End but not even he could swing it Iran’s way.

Thailand now play China in one semi-final, Kuwait take on Bahrain in the other.

ACC U-19 Challenge 2009
Group A
Thailand v Iran at Prem Oval
THAILAND WON BY FOUR WICKETS
Iran won the toss and chose to bat
Iran: 133 all out off 33.4 overs (N.Senamontree 4-23)
Thailand: 134 for 6 off 35.5 overs (P.Parakh 41, W.Thapthimthai 30)
Man of the Match: Pranav Parakh (Thailand)
Scorecard

Pictures by Danny Bowes

Tournament page