BANGKOK: Oman's young cricketers went through to the ACC Under-19 Challenge 2013 final, beating China by 7 wickets in the semifinal at AIT Bangkok yesterday.
On a scorching day, leavened only by a breeze in the afternoon, Oman's quality bowlers took the game away from an improving China. The highlight were the spinners led by Oman captain Shreyas Malhotra. "Our bowlers did a wonderful job," said Oman U-19 manager Dad Mohammed Al Balushi.
"Shreyas bowled beautifully to check the Chinese batsmen and our batsmen played with caution to cross the target," he added.
"I am proud of their performance so far and I am confident we will do well in the final against Singapore and take home the trophy," said an elated Oman manager after the match.
From the first ball of the China innings, a sumptuous on-drive to the sightscreen, it looked like China were up for the contest. The north Bangkok wicket a touch sweaty after the covers had been taken off, the outfield a little damp in the first hour making boundaries hard to hit.
Nevertheless, Song Yangyang, an Asian Games and a season in Australia behind him played that first stroke which had onlookers applauding. He was strong on the back foot too. Oman normally so noisy, were quietened on the field
Oman's captain Shreyas Malhotra brought himself on from the Engineering End after eight overs were bowled and the game changed. There was grip and turn, given the state of the pitch and China's batsmen were not as certain against spin as they were with pace.
Shreyas himself bowled Song Yangyang, playing back to a ball that spun in (21 off 29 balls, three 4s) and from 25 for 0, China were 32 for 4 five overs later, three of them falling to the off- spinner.
The big man, the hitter of soaring sixes, Tian Haiyang came in with the innings resting on his shoulders. Another wicket fell on the same score. Haiyang edged left-arm spinner Waseem Ali just short of slip before he got off the mark and was then dropped on 2 at long-on from a full-blooded drive. The innings was teetering on Haiyang's shoulders but he knuckled down.
Oman's spinners bowled well, wicket to wicket and didn't push it through, the tall boys with their high actions giving the ball every opportunity to turn.
Waseem Ali frequently beat the outside edge and could perhaps have benefited from pitching it more on middle and leg. There were four round the bat at one stage, as Oman pressed for the breakthrough.At half-way China were 58 for 5. A high-full-toss was swung over the midwicket fielder for Haiyang's first boundary in the 27th over, to take him into double figures off his 46th delivery.
However, with the partnership between Wang Jing and Haiyang on 49 (off 65 balls) a tiring Haiyang holed out to long-on. And just two runs later Jing was out, cutting off a length, the ball taking the top-edge to slip. The last three wickets added 13 runs, and China were 96 all out in the 39th over.
Nine wickets fell to the Oman spinners with Shreyas Malhotra taking a haul of 5 for 22.
Oman started well, playing within themselves, forgoing any extravagant shots even with the field inside the circle. China's bowlers kept plugging away and pushed as hard as they could in the field.
There was off-spin from the start with Song Yangyang and he took two in two balls in the 14th over, the ball not deviating much off the straight, Oman's batsmen just played down the wrong line. Oman went into lunch on 50 for 3 after 17 overs.
The hard-hitting Gayash Dias (36 not out) was the key batsman. Gayash's first stroke after lunch was a pull for. With 11 wanted he was missed by square leg running to his left and then survived a stumping chance next ball before cutting the next ball toward the boundary and then hammering another full toss through the midwicket gap.
Oman will now play Singapore in the final, after they beat Maldives by nine wickets.
Singapore elected to field. They did well to restrict Maldives to 54 after having bowled 25.5 overs. K. Suresh (3-14) and A. Goenka (3-7) were the pick of Singapore bowlers. Singapore chased down the target in 18.2 overs, with V.Shedashri 22 not out and V. Sivaram 22 not out contributing with the bat.