Report by Richard Lockwood, Cricket Association of Thailand

At the start of the day Singapore had entertained hopes of a place in the semi-finals of the ACC Under 19 Elite Cup, having pushed Qatar and Hong Kong close and finally gained victory over Malaysia. It was not to be as Hong Kong fought back to defeat Malaysia to claim a place in the last four, and worse the improving Bahrain side gave their best display of the tournament to beat Singapore by 54 runs at PTIS Oval. After net run-rates had been computed, Singapore were condemned to relegation to the Challenge Division for finishing fifth in Group A.

Bahrain’s openers faced a testing time against Karthik Suresh and Varun Sivaram who had both taken early wickets in previous matches but Yaser Iftikhar and Pratham Kashyap were resisting stoutly.

Bahrain's openers were batting with confidence following their victory against Qatar but it was a different story for Singapore. Iishan Shekhar came on to bowl the ninth over, but injured himself after four balls. Rezza Gaznavi eventually completed the over but only after bowling four wides. After 10 overs Bahrain were firmly on top at 39 for one.

Better news for Singapore as Bahrain lost their first wicket. They tried a fifth bowler, Prasheen Param, and he dismissed Pratham Kashyap caught by the substitute fielder Usman Manazir for 10 with the total on 40.

Bahrain were continuing to build a useful score after the introduction of spin at both ends. Left-handed opener Yaser Iftikhar was pushing the singles, but new man Numan was going for his shots, a sweep for six bringing an early drinks break while the ball was being retrieved.

Numan Yousaf was going like a train as he hit his second six and reached 25 to overtake partner Yaser Iftikhar who had a 10-over start. Bahrain were 73 for one in 16 overs with Yaser on 21, Numan on 25.

Iishan Shekhar returned to the field after receiving treatment for stepping on a bowler's marker and was now able to bowl again. Still no luck for Singapore who were losing their discipline and bowling their overs very slowly.

Yaser Iftikhar and Numan Yousaf brought up the fifty partnership for the second wicket and with the total approaching the hundred mark with only one wicket down Bahrain supporters were now dreaming of retaining their place in the Elite Division

Bahrain's 100 came up in the 22nd over with Singapore looking increasingly desperate with the threat of relegation hanging over them. Bahrain 101 for 1 after 23 overs with both batsmen on 34.

Bahrain reached 112 for 1 at the halfway stage of their innings, having successfully defended a total of 111 against Qatar. Yaser had 42, Numan 34 and they are doing their country proud.

Numan Yousaf reached his 50, facing 56 balls and hitting 6 fours and 2 sixes, but Yaser Iftikhar failed in his quest, as he pushed forward and was stumped for 48 off the bowling of Mohammad Yusuf, Singapore's seventh bowler. The partnership ended at 95 with the score 135 for 2 after 30 overs.

The score mounted steadily with singles coming easily against the spinners who were helping to speed up the over-rate as Bahrain reached their 150 in the 34th over.

Hope for Singapore perhaps as Shariff Monem was well caught at slip by Vikas Rajgopal off Abhiraj Singh for 10 to leave the score on 155 for 3 after 35 overs.

After 40 overs Bahrain were 184 for 3 with Numan Yousaf still in command on 84. With the batting powerplay still to be taken they could reach an imposing total.

Numan Yousaf's fine innings came to an end on 89 as he was caught behind from the bowling of Mohammad Yusuf to leave Bahrain's total on 201 for 4 with six overs still to be bowled.

Prasheen Param claimed two wickets in two balls in the 49th over but it looked to be a case of too little too late for Singapore as Sameer Yousuf made sure Bahrain's innings would end with a flourish. Cyrus D'Souza brought up the 250 before being run out but the last ball of the innings went for four and a total of 258 for 7 in 50 overs looked highly impressive.

Bahrain could not qualify for the semi-finals regardless of what happened in the Hong Kong v Malaysia match but they had a great chance of defending a total of 258 to retain their place in the Elite Division. Singapore started the day with realistic hopes for a place in the semi-final but now faced the very real chance of relegation and their innings did not start well - 15 for 2 in 5 overs.

Singapore were struggling to make an impression against Bahrain's opening bowlers. They had not made run-scoring look easy in previous matches and now they needed an inspired batting display.

Singapore had lost only two wickets by the end of the first 10 overs with 33 on the board but Bahrain's spinners, so effective against Qatar, would soon be on show.

Opener Vinay Rohira and captain Rezza Gaznavi were looking settled as both reached 16. With the total on 43 for 2 in 11 overs it was time to see Cyrus D'Souza who was man of the match against Qatar with 5 for 25.

We could still have a close match on our hands as Rohira and Gaznavi raised a fifty partnership for the third wicket. At drinks Singapore were 67 for two, Rohira on 18, Gaznavi on 32.

With news coming in from Gymkhana that rather than heading for victory, Malaysia were sliding towards defeat, coaches from both teams were scratching their heads as to how this would affect the table. On the field Rohira was caught at second slip by Hardeep Singh from the bowling of Pratham Kashyap to make the score 75 for 3.

Singapore were now struggling against Bahrain's slow bowlers as Sameer Abbas had Rezza Gaznavi caught at long on for 38. After 19 overs the scoreboard read 75 for 4.

Hong Kong have beaten Malaysia by 15 runs at Gymkhana to win Group A and reached the semi-finals along with Qatar. Malaysia finish on 2 points with a net run-rate of 0.25 which means the winners of this match will finish third in the group, the loser fifth. Singapore still need 157 more to win at the halfway stage with the score on 102 for 5.

Vikas Rajgopal raised Singapore hopes by hitting a splendid straight six but this was immediately followed by the run out of Sarang Krishnan by the length of the pitch - something of a speciality for Singapore batsmen. They were now 122 for 6 after 28 overs.

Singapore were fading fast as Varun Sivaram was caught by Hardeep Singh off Sameer Abbas for 0 with the score still on 122.

Singapore were down but not quite out. At the second drinks interval the score was 144 for 7 from 33 overs, Vikas Rajgopal on 30, Abhiraj Singh on 13. 115 more runs needed in 17 overs.

Bahrain were suddenly looking anxious in the field, as a boundary was followed by four byes, and the score had moved on to 156 for 7 in 35 overs. 103 needed in 15 overs at a required run-rate of less than seven per over.

Cyrus D'Souza changed ends hoping for a change in luck but he did not look a match-winner today as Vikas Rajgopal hit him for four and six. Singapore were 173 for 7 in 37 overs. 86 more needed in 13 overs.

Bahrain brought back their fast bowlers, hoping for a wicket, but at least they slowed Singapore's scoring rate. With 10 overs left, they needed 72 more runs which was still a hard task with only 3 wickets in hand.

Vikas Rajgopal brought up his 50 with a splendid straight drive, reaching the landmark in 53 balls with five fours and two sixes. Could he take his side to an unlikely victory as the score reached 194 for 7 in 41 overs? 65 needed in 9 overs.

At last the breakthrough for Bahrain as Rajgopal's innings ended on 54 as Singapore lost their eighth wicket on 197. The batting powerplay had just been taken and a wicket soon followed as Rajgopal skied into the off-side field. He had added 75 with Abhiraj for the eighth wicket.

As happens so often after a long partnership there was a rush of wickets, Abhiraj run out for 33 and Mohammad Yusuf bowled by Hardeep Singh for 3. Singapore were bowled out for 204 in 44.4 overs and Bahrain had won by 54 runs.

The margin of victory sounds relatively comfortable but this was not the case when Rajgopal was being given such good support by Abhiraj. Bahrain's second victory of the tournament moved them up to third place in the group but Singapore finished last behind Malaysia on net run-rate.

So narrow is the gap between success and failure, Singapore have given their all in their four matches but have been relegated to the Challenge Division. They had played some delightful cricket at times but had been harshly punished for a few schoolboy errors.

ACC U-19 Elite Cup 2011

Group A: Bahrain v Singapore at Prem Centre, Chiang Mai
Singapore won the toss and elected to field
Bahrain: 258 for 7 off 50 overs (N. Yousaf 89, S.Yousuf 40; P. Param 3-58)
Oman: 204 all out off 44.4 overs (R.Gaznavi 38, V.Rajgopal 54, A. Singh 34; P.Kashyap 3-36)
Man of the Match: Numan Yousaf (Bahrain)

Tournament page

Filed February 7th, 2011