Preview: A Treat For Cricket Fans In Thailand As Bangkok Hosts The Acc Eastern Region T20
Thailand’s women’s team are showing off their unique brand of cricket to a worldwide audience while taking part in the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia. Thailand’s men will shortly be playing in a major qualifying tournament themselves as they are competing in the ACC Eastern Region T20 which serves as a qualifier for the next stage of the Asia Cup.
Participating Team Captains & Trophy
This is the first time that an official T20 International men’s tournament will be staged in Thailand with matches being played at the Terdthai Cricket Ground in Bangkok between 29th February and 6th March. Thailand are taking part alongside four highly competitive teams from the Eastern Region of Asia, as they are facing Nepal, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Nepal were the highest rated team in T20I World Rankings when they were last updated in 12th place, Hong Kong were 20th, Singapore 21st, Malaysia 39th and Thailand are 65th having only won one match out of four in their first year playing official T20 Internationals.
Thailand will clearly face some challenges on the field as they come up against four very strong international sides but it is hard to pick a winner and spectators will be guaranteed some exciting cricket. Nepal are probably the favourites as wonder spinner Sandeep Lamichhane recently helped them celebrate their newly acquired ODI status by taking six wickets to bowl out United States of America for just 35 as Nepal played their first ever ODI series on home soil.
It is a fantastic prospect to see 19-year-old mystery wrist-spinner Lamichhane play cricket in Thailand as he is one of the most exciting prospects in the world of T20 franchise cricket having starred in the Big Bash in Australia, the Indian Premier League, the Caribbean Premier League and the Pakistan Super League. He has already humbled United States of America in ODI cricket and is dreaming of the day when Nepal can play Test cricket.
Nepal will face plenty of competition in this tournament as was shown when they missed out on the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier that was held in UAE late last year because they were beaten by 82 runs by Singapore in the last match of the Asia Finals staged in Singapore in July 2019. Tim David who has also played in the BBL in Australia hit 77 in a total of 191 for 6 as Lamichhame was tamed when he bowled 3 overs for 34.
Singapore then finished sixth in Group A of the World Cup Qualifier with two wins and four defeats, while Hong Kong who also played in that final qualifier finished third in Group B with three wins and three losses. This gave the Hong Kong team a chance of reaching the 2020 men’s T20 World Cup also held in Australia if they could beat Oman but they fell at the final hurdle as they were beaten by just 12 runs.
Hong Kong, who had played in the 2016 edition of the World T20, had come close to reaching the 2020 T20 World Cup but when they faced Malaysia, ranked far below them in the world rankings, Malaysia came out on top in impressive fashion in a five-match series played earlier in February, as Malaysia won all five matches. Their bowling attack proved able to defend whatever total was posted in the first four matches before their batsmen gave a great display to complete the clean sweep as Malaysia scored 176 for 4 to win by six wickets.
Thailand will clearly have their work cut out against four quality sides but as the Thai girls are finding out in Australia playing against top teams rather than lower ranked sides is all part of cricket development. Thailand will be tested in every contest but at least they won the last match of the tri-series in Malaysia last year when Naveed Pathan scored a fifty to take his team to victory over Maldives.
The hosts have a new look team for this tournament with two experienced players in Nopphon Senamontree and Wanchana Uisik returning after coaching duties with age group teams and two youngsters from those teams are selected for the first time in Sorawat Desungnoen and Phiyiapong Suanchuai. Ismail Sardar is another new face thanks to his fine form in domestic T20 cricket.
The ACC Eastern Region T20 gets underway at TCG in Bangkok on Saturday 29th February with Thailand facing Singapore in the morning and Malaysia taking on Nepal in the afternoon. Matches start at 9.30 and 13.30 and the tournament runs until Friday 6th March when the last two matches in the five-team league see Nepal play Singapore and Hong Kong take on Malaysia.
The two leading teams after 10 matches will join Kuwait and United Arab Emirates from the Western Region in a four-team Qualifier staged in Malaysia in August to see which associate team will compete in the next T20 Asia Cup which will be held in Pakistan in September.
CAPTAINS EXCITED AS THEY TAKE THE FIRST STEP ON THE ROAD TO THE NEXT ASIA CUP
Teams from five countries, Thailand, Nepal, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, are taking part in the ACC Eastern Region T20 which starts in Bangkok on Saturday 29th February. All the competing teams have had a busy day on Friday as they travelled to Therdthai Cricket Ground to practise all their skills, batting, bowling and fielding, and to get used to the heat of Bangkok.
The leading two teams in this competition will move on to the next stage of qualifying as they hope to reach the next Asia Cup that will be played in Pakistan in September. The five captains took time out to share their views on what is anticipated to be an exciting and very even competition.
Vichanath Singh, Thailand
‘We are really excited about the Eastern Division T20 and looking forward to facing four good teams. The boys are looking forward to facing some strong teams and showing how competitive our team can be.
We will enjoy playing on our home ground and will try to use it to our advantage. We are looking to our best batsmen to make the most of the 20 overs and to take the game away from the opposition. We are hoping for some good results in this competition.’
Gyanendra Malla, captain of Nepal
‘We want to be champions and to qualify for the next round. It would be a great achievement for our country to play in the next Asia Cup. We have a balanced and young side.
Sandeep Lamichhane is a great asset to have in the team as he has been playing T20 cricket around the world and has so much experience. It is a bonus having him in the side.’
Amjad Mahboob, captain of Singapore
‘We are hoping for the best and ready to do well in this competition. We already have a very good team and now we have a World Cup winning coach in Dav Whatmore and we are hoping his experience will help us to achieve great things.
Fielding is very important and we have just had a good practice session as we are trying out a new ground for the first time. We have three or four batsmen who hit the ball hard and can reach the boundary.’
Aizaz Khan, captain of Hong Kong
‘We are looking forward to this tournament and we have come here from playing a series against Malaysia. We have a good side and we are hopeful that we can qualify. We have a good, young team and I think the player to watch out for is Kinchit Shah who has been scoring runs and bowling well as well as being a good fielder.’
Ahmed Faiz, captain of Malaysia
‘We have high hopes that we can qualify for the Asia Cup. We have a balanced team with several hard-hitting batsmen and I am happy with our bowling attack with strong recent performances from the pacers against Hong Kong and our natural strength is in spin.