The best two teams in the tournament, Nepal and Singapore, will meet in the final of the ACC U-16 Eastern Region Tournament as both teams were unbeaten in the group stages and comfortably won their semi-finals against Malaysia and Hong Kong respectively. The final, played at Terdthai Cricket Ground in Bangkok on Sunday, will be a fascinating contest between two outstanding teams.

Singapore were the first to reach the final as they convincingly beat Hong Kong by 8 wickets at the Asian Institute of Technology. Singapore had finished top of Group A, played in Chiang Mai, while Hong Kong had been based in Bangkok and finished second in Group B.

Hong Kong knew conditions well at AIT nce this was their third match on the ground and they elected to bat first on winning the toss as they felt runs on the board would be a considerable advantage. Singapore’s spinners have bowled well throughout the competition so the Hong Kong innings saw an intriguing battle between bat and ball.

Pranav Sudharshan took the first wicket with his medium pace thanks to a catch at cover but it was the left-arm spin of Ishaan Sawney which gave Singapore the upper hand as he took the wickets of Munir Khan and Aarush Bhagwat, hitting the stumps on both occasions, and finishing a seven-over spell with figures of 2 for 13.

Leg-spinner Aryan Berry backed him up well as he also claimed two wickets to give him nine in the tournament as Hong Kong were reduced to 54 for 6. Sawney had bowled with impeccable accuracy but the other spinners were more generous with length and line and Hong Kong’s lower-order were rewarded for going for their shots.

61 runs came in the last 10 overs of the innings and although Hong Kong were bowled out in 34.4 overs a total of 123 was more than they could have hoped for earlier in their innings. Abdul Urslan top-scored at number nine with 22 before Atharva Gune took the last two wickets.

Hong Kong claimed an early wicket when Singapore began their chase as Sai Venugopal was well caught at long on for 3 with the score on 25 but this brought Ishaan Sawney to the crease to join captain Aman Desai who was already playing some lovely strokes.

Once Sawney had played himself in, the second-wicket partnership began to grow as both left-handed batsmen showed notable patience to wait for the bad balls to come and then put them away with considerable skill. Given this pair have other talents with Desai an impressive wicket-keeper and Sawney a left-arm spinner of some quality, this pair should have good international careers ahead of them.

Aman Desai has already played for Singapore U-19s and he reached his fifty from 66 balls with seven boundaries but he was out for 55 to end a fine partnership of 89 with Sawney who finished the match off with a pair of boundaries as Singapore reached their target with 11 overs to spare.

Hong Kong had tried hard in the field and used a variety of bowling options with Nasrulla Rana a rare example of an ambidextrous bowler. He started with some brisk right-arm medium pace, only to switch to left-arm spin and the change of style paid dividends as he took the wicket of Desai with 10 runs still needed. Ishaan Sawney was named man of the match for his unbeaten 48 and figures of 2 for 13, and as it was his third award in four matches it leaves him with a good chance of being named as player of the tournament with 123 runs and seven wickets to his name.

Singapore's Ishaan Sawney (48* and 2-13) who was Man of the Match for the third time in this tournament

Singapore will face Nepal in the final who also have a perfect record after winning all three of their group matches and then defeating Malaysia by 72 runs at TCG in the other semi-final. After the start was delayed until 11.00 am and the match reduced to 34 overs aside, Nepal didn’t have things all their own way after being put into bat as Malaysia’s spinners proved difficult to get away.

Nepal’s innings against Malaysia followed a similar course to Hong Kong’s against Singapore as they were tied down by the economical slow left-arm spin of Vijay Unni. A position of 36 for 3 brought Rit Gautam and Trit Raj Das together at the crease, and both were among the leading run-scorers in the tournament with Gautam fresh from scoring a century against Myanmar.

The expected counter-attack didn’t occur and both were out as Nepal were reduced to 60 for 5 and the match was in the balance. Nepal have a long batting line-up and two of their main bowlers were there to repair the innings. Narayan Joshi hit two sixes in his innings of 17 and Pratis GC hit 25 from 22 balls to top-score from number eight.

Nepal had been able to post a respectable total of 127 for eight in 34 overs as Mohammad Afiq took the last three wickets to finish with figures of 3 for 19 and give him 10 wickets in the tournament but Malaysia would have had hopes of victory if they could make a good start.

In fact, Malaysia reached 24 with only one wicket down as Sandesh Supparamaniam hit three boundaries, but their innings was rocked back by the loss of four wickets for two runs in the space of 15 balls and things got worse for Malaysia as they were soon 35 for 8. The last two wickets did well to add a further 20 runs but Malaysia were finally bowled out for 55 in 21.1 overs.

Nepal won by 72 runs to reach the final as Pratis GC returned figures of 3 for 23 and Surya Tamang did even better as he took 4 for 12. Nepal’s bowling attack has been formidable throughout the tournament with only Hong Kong able to bat out the overs against them. Pratis GC was named man of the match for a fine all-round performance.

The tournament will come to an end on Sunday with Nepal and Singapore facing each other in the final at TCG while Malaysia and Hong Kong will be playing in the third place play-off at AIT.

Day 6: Sat Dec 16

SF1: Nepal v Malaysia at TCG
Malaysia won the toss and elected to field
Nepal: 127 for 8 off 34 overs (M.Afiq 3-19)
Malaysia: 55 all out off 21.1 overs (G.Pratis 3-23, S.Tamang 4-12)

SF2: Hong Kong v Singapore at AIT
Hong Kong won the toss and chose to bat
Hong Kong: 122 all out off 34.4 overs
Singapore: 125 for 2 off 24 overs (A.Desai 55, I.Sawney 48*)

Written by Richard Lockwood
Filed December 16th, 2017

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