The final of the ACC U-16 Eastern Region Tournament which has been held in Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand over the past week saw the two best teams in the tournament go head to head in the final at Terdthai Cricket Ground.

Nepal and Singapore had each won all three group matches and were victorious in their semi-finals by comfortable margins so Nepal were indeed worthy champions as they defeated Singapore by 71 runs after scoring 183 for 6 and bowling out their opponents for 112.

Nepal won the toss and elected to bat first. Nepal were being led by Bishal Bikram in the absence of their captain Rit Gautam who was sick.  Pranav Sudarshan and Raoul Sharma took the new ball and Singapore claimed an early wicket as Sharma benefited from pitching the ball up as he induced a drive from Kushal Mulla which caught at square over.

Singapore looked to be taking control of the final as they took a second wicket by virtue of a run out as Vinit Mehta recovered quickly after a slight misfield as Rajan Magar fell for 3 to leave Nepal on 25 for 2 after 7 overs.

The third-wicket pair were beginning to look comfortable as new captain Bishal Bikram hit a rare full toss from Ishaan Sawney to the mid-wicket boundary but the left-arm spinner regained his control to capture the wicket of Suwash Ayer caught behind by Aman Desai. Ayer had come into the team to replace Rit Gautam and made 22 from 22 balls. Nepal were 40 for 3 after 10 overs.

The final between the two best teams in the tournament was well-balanced as the first hour's play came to an end. Singapore had taken early wickets but it looked as if Nepal would be able to build a useful total with Bishal Bikram and Trit Raj Das at the crease. Nepal were 61 for 3 after 15 overs.

Nepal lost their fourth wicket just as a partnership was developing between stand-in captain Bishal Bikram and the tournament's leading run-scorer Trit Raj Das. Das was caught and bowled by Ishaan Sawney for 19 to give him a final total of 162 runs. Things could have been worse for Nepal as Sunil Bhandari was dropped on the mid-wicket boundary by Arnav Wadhwa.

Singapore's two frontline spinners finished their spells with Ishaan Sawney taking 2 for 31 from his 7 overs and off-spinner Vinit Mehta bowling his 7 overs for just 19 runs. The last 10 overs of Nepal's innings would provide the key to the match as leg-spinner Aryan Berry was brought on to bowl. Nepal still had six wickets in hand on 92 for 4 from 25 overs and Bishal Bikram was playing quite a captain's innings in his first match in charge as he was unbeaten on 38.

Nepal's 100 came up in the 27th over and Bishal Bikram celebrated by hitting the first six of the match. Sunil Bhandari was the fifth wicket to fall as Raoul Sharma took a good catch diving forward off Pramesh Singhavi. Bishal Bikram completed a fine fifty from 68 balls with 4 fours and a six and Nepal were now looking well placed on 126 for 5 with five overs of their innings to go.

Bishal Bikram's innings finally ended on 63 from 79 balls as he was caught behind off Pranav Sudarshan but runs had been flowing nicely for Nepal towards the end of the innings as their lower order have shown they can all hit the ball. Fast bowler Narayan Joshi played his part to perfection as Nepal made sure they posted a substantial score.

57 runs came from the last five overs as they reached 183 for 6 in their 35 overs and Joshi finished on 46 from 23 balls as he played provided a blistering finish to the innings with 5 fours and a six. Nepal would have been very pleased with their total of 183 for 6 in 35 overs made in an important final against a strong opponent.

Singapore needed to bat very well as they chased a target of 184 and they have lost an early wicket as Aman Desai, who had made 55 in the semi-final against Hong Kong, was run out by the bowler in rather unfortunate circumstances. Ishaan Sawney came to the crease boasting a record of 123 runs for once out and much rested on his shoulders.

Singapore were in new territory as Hong Kong had made the highest total against them when they were bowled out for 123 so the team hadn't had to chase anything as high as 184 although Singapore did score 151 for 8 batting first against Malaysia.

Nepal also had a good varied bowling attack with two decent fast bowlers and a variety of spin bowling options. Narayan Joshi with 10 wickets in the tournament had changed ends to bowl with the wind at his back and was proving quite a handful but Singapore had done well to reach 31 for 1 in 10 overs.

Singapore continued to make steady progress as they chased their target of 184 as they were 43 for 1 after 15 overs with Harsha Venugopal and Ishaan Sawney trying to lay a solid foundation to their innings. They were facing an ever more difficult task as Singapore now needed 141 runs from the last 20 overs.

Nepal claimed the crucial wicket of Ishaan Sawney as he was out for the second time in the tournament when he was bowled by Kushal Malla for 12 from 45 balls. He had tried his hardest but runs had proved hard to come by as he finished with 135 runs at an average of 67.50. Singapore were 47 for 2 from 18 overs at drinks and needed 147 from 17 overs as the required rate had moved above eight runs an over.

Singapore were finally been able to throw off the shackles and scored 15 runs in the first two overs after drinks as opener Harsha Venugopal at hit two boundaries and Pramesh Singhavi one as the necessary acceleration could be delayed no longer. The third wicket fell with the score on 63 in the 21st over when Singhavi was bowled by Ajay Kumar Loniya for 6. Singapore had by no means given up as new batsman Raoul Sharma hit the first six of the innings.

Singapore were 76 for 3 after 25 overs and in most previous matches in the tournament would be in a good position but against Nepal in the final they now needed to score 108 more runs in the last 10 overs. Harsha Venugopal finally perished as he sent the ball sailing towards the long-on boundary only to be caught by Pratis GC for 31 from 65 balls.

Raoul Sharma showed he could hit the ball extremely hard but he came down the wicket to the left-arm spin of Surya Tamang only to be stumped for 15 and Singapore looked to be on the way to feat with five wickets down for 81.

Wickets were falling quickly as Singapore had to hit out to have any chance of reaching their target. Surya Tamang took two more wickets with his slow left-arm spin, both bowled, to give him three in the innings, as Singapore slipped to 104 for 8 in the 30th over. 76 were needed from the last five overs.

Nine wickets were down for 109 as Ajay Kumar Loniya now claimed his third wicket and the impressive fast bowler Narayan Joshi came back to look for the final wicket that would seal Nepal's triumph.

Nepal won the final of the ACC U-16 Eastern Region Tournament as they beat Singapore by 71 runs as they bowled out Singapore for 112 with Narayan Joshi duly taking the last wicket to finish with 11 wickets in the tournament.

Hong Kong faced Malaysia in the third place play-off at Asian Institute of Technology and although Malaysia competed hard throughout the match, Hong Kong finished third by beating their opponents by 27 runs. Hong reached 108 for 7 in their 35 overs as Aarush Baghwat hit 31 and Nasrulla Rana 30 after being tested by Malaysia’s spinners, the accurate Vijay Unni and Mohammad Afiq who finished as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker.

Malaysia were in trouble from the start as they lost their first three wickets with only nine runs on the board and although Aslam Khan Malik made 16, Hong Kong looked to be heading for a comfortable victory when the ninth wicket fell on 58. Muhammad Shahid then proceeded to make 21 out of a last wicket stand of 23 before Malaysia were finally bowled out for 81 in 23.5 overs.

Man of the Match - Nepal's Bishal Bikram

Nepal were crowned champions of the ACC U-16 Eastern Region Tournament at the end of a lengthy presentation.  Nepal's Bishal Bikram was named man of the match for his innings of 63 while Ishaan Sawney of Singapore won the player of the tournament award after scoring 135 runs and taking 9 wickets. Batsman of the tournament was Nepal’s Trit Raj Das and Malaysia’s Mohammad Afiq was named bowler of the tournament.

The Asian Cricket Council’s special Spirit of Cricket Award went to China whose enthusiasm for playing the game and the excitement the team showed when they defeated Bhutan summed up the reasons behind the ACC’s development program that takes the love of cricket across Asia.

Player of the Tournament - Singapore's Ishaan Sawney

Day 8: Sun Dec 17

Final: Nepal v Singapore at TCG
Nepal won the toss and chose to bat
Nepal: 183 for 6 off 35 overs (B.Bikram 63, N.Joshi 46*)
Singapore: 112 all out off 31.5 overs (S.Venugopal 31; S.Tamang 3-20)

3rd/4th: Hong Kong v Malaysia at AIT
Hong Kong won the toss and chose to bat
Hong Kong: 108 for 7 off 35 overs (A.Bhagwat 31, N.Rana 30)
Malaysia: 81 all out off 23.5 overs (A.Hussain 4-30)

Written by Richard Lockwood
Filed December 17th, 2017

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