ACC U-19 Challenge Cup 2009 - Thailand v China


Report courtesy of Cricket Association of Thailand

Thailand's boys did their country proud by outplaying China in the semi-final of the ACC Under-19 Challenge Cup at Gymkhana Club. The home side bowled out the opposition for 73 and chased down the target in style to win by nine wickets. Not only do Thailand reach Friday's Final, they also gain promotion to the Elite Division.

It wasn’t only the result that bodes well for the future of cricket in Thailand but the manner of the victory over a China team who had shown signs of improvement earlier in the tournament. Slow left-arm spinners Vichanath Singh and Noppon Senamontree spun a web so tight around the Chinese batsmen that they shared seven wickets for just 14 runs.

The Chinese had started confidently with the ball coming sweetly on to the bat on a newly relaid Gymkhana wicket. Ishan Kalra had taken two early wickets but opener Li Jian was timing the ball nicely and Zhang Yufei, China’s best batsmen, had hit four boundaries to take the score to 49 for two before captain Singh brought himself into the attack in the 14th over.

Vichanath Singh, so much looking the part of a quality spin bowler, soon made batting a much more difficult proposition. Li Jian lost concentration to be stumped for 15 with the score on 58 and Fu Yifeng soon followed lbw.

Noppon Senamontree, who learned to bowl spin in Khon Kaen, joined his captain in a left-arm spin partnership of mesmerising control but it was Vichanath, known as Honey, who captured the key wicket of Zhang Yufei, who has top-scored in all four of China’s matches.

The China captain was bowled for 25 to make the score 63 for five and the lower-order were left in a desperate struggle for survival. They did not last long, Senamontree known as Pair taking a brilliant caught and bowled to make it 68 for six and the last four wickets fell with the total on 73.

Vichanath Singh

Vichanath took his fourth wicket with his last ball to finish with the exceptional figures of 10-6-7-4 and Senamontree took a pair of wickets in his eighth over to claim three for seven.

The last wicket fell to a run out as the Chinese searched in vain for the next run. The last eight wickets had fallen for 15 runs, such was the hold the Thai spin twins exerted over their hapless victims.

Thailand’s target for victory and to claim a place in the final looked straightforward but Pranav Parakh suffered a rare failure when he was bowled by the talented all-rounder Zhang Yufei as the first wicket fell on 11.

Daniel Leach, who had earlier bowled with fire but without full control, joined Thanathit Jeerapanthawong and the pair deserve praise for building a partnership with care. Leach batted with the composure that his bowling sometimes lacks and once Zhang Yufei had been seen off, Tong set about finishing the match with a flourish.

His wicket-keeping had been immaculate against the spinners, and he took a liking to the Chinese off-spinner Wang Jing by hitting him for a four and a six to bring up the fifty partnership and to bring Thailand within one blow of victory.

A historic win was sealed from the first ball of the 17th over Tong hitting another boundary over mid-on to bring victory by nine wickets. Watched proudly by his parents, he finished unbeaten on 35 with four fours and a six while Leach played calmly in support to reach 11.

Thailand had reached the final in fine style and will be able to test themselves against leading sides across Asia when they take their place in the Elite Division in 2011. The rise of men’s cricket in Thailand has begun to gather pace as many of these young players will graduate to the senior team in the next year or two.

There is a lovely balance to this team, of defence and attack with the bat, of pace and spin with the ball; ethnic Thais are playing alongside those with backgrounds from the sub-continent, together with newcomers Daniel Leach who has grown up in England and Witsanukorn Thapthimthai who has learnt his cricket in Australia. All bring different ingredients which, when mixed together, create a wonderful team spirit.

Thailand can be proud of its cricket teams, the boys now repeating the success of the girls’ teams in recent tournaments, and it is appropriate that this success has come in Chiang Mai where so much has been done to develop youth cricket in recent years.

Vichanath Singh with ACC Development Manager Bandula Warnapura

Thailand now will play Bahrain in the final on Friday and have a great chance to win the competition. China will face Kuwait in the play-off for third and fourth places.

Semi-Final 2: Thailand v China at Gymkhana
China won the toss and chose to bat
China: 73 all out off 33.5 overs (V. Singh 4-7, N. Senamontree 3-7)
Thailand: 74 for 1 after 16.1 overs (T. Jeerapanthawong 35*)
Man of the Match: Vichanath Singh (Thailand)

Tournament page