The last day of the ACC Men’s T20 Eastern Region 2018 provided a fitting finale to an entertaining competition as Bhutan defeated hosts Thailand by three runs to win the final and Myanmar defeated China by five runs to win the third place play-off. Both the weather and the ground conditions were much improved and the cricket was closely throughout the day.
Thailand had beaten Bhutan by 44 runs in the league match but this time Bhutan won the toss and elected to bat first and promoted left-hander Kumar Subba up to open. Chanchai Pengkumta took the new ball and took a wicket in his first over for the third match in a row as he had Subba bowled without scoring. Vichanath Singh also opened the bowling but Suprit Pradhan started well as Bhutan were 18 for 1 after three overs.
Bhutan’s bright start came to an end just as the clouds are building up at TCG, and remarkably it was because of two run outs in two balls to the same fielder, as Robert Raina hit the stumps twice with direct hits. Thailand’s spinners were beginning to build up pressure as Vichanath Singh was followed by Ryan Raina and Nopphon Senamontree. The pressure finally told as Suprit Pradhan was caught at cover and Bhutan were precariously placed at 19 for 4 after the 6-over power play.
Light rain was falling at TCG and the umpires have brought the players off with Bhutan’s score on 26 for 4 after 9 overs. This was possibly a precautionary measure to protect the pitch which had taken such a soaking. Thailand were well on top but they would have been hoping that skies cleared soon and that play could restart.
The players were back on after a 15 break for rain but Bhutan soon lost another wicket as Sanjeeva Gurung was run out, again by a Robert Raina direct hit. Bhutan were 33 for 5 after 10 overs and Raina had completed his hat-trick of run outs.
But the partnership between Jigme Singye and Thinley Jamtsho began to build and was helped by a dropped catch by Robert Raina as Jigme skied a sweep shot Thinley hit Payuputh Sungnard for a big six over mid-wicket and also had a life when he was dropped by Sittipong Hongsi as Bhutan reached 65 for 5 with five overs of their innings left.
Robert Raina was brought on to bowl his medium pace only for Thinley Jamtsho to hit a second six over long-on. Next ball he tried to repeat the shot but Chanchai Pengkumta moved to his right and took the ball safely as Thinley fell for a powerful 31 from 21 balls. Vichanath Singh finished his spell with a wicket in his last over which gave him six wickets for 23 in the competition.
Robert Raina bowled the 19th over and took two more wickets to give him a hand in six dismissals in the innings but the last pair did extremely well to hit 13 from the last over which took Bhutan to a useful total of 101 for 9 in their 20 overs. Jigme and Thinley, Bhutan’s two leading players, had at least given their team a chance.
Thailand’s run chase got under way as they looked to make 102 for victory in 20 overs. Daniel Jacobs was joined by Wanchana Uisuk now recovered from injury and the captain was looking to make a fast start in the power play. Jacobs hit two fours at the end of the opening over bowled by Thinley, then another boundary off Tenzin, forcing Bhutan to turn to spin. He then hit Tandin Wangchuk for six to take Thailand to 33 for 0 in three overs.
Suprit Pradhan claimed the first wicket when he bowled a slightly tentative Wanchana Uisuk which brought Chanchai Pengkumta in to join Jacobs but he was given out lbw to the first ball he faced. Kiatiwut Suttisan was the third wicket to fall as he missed a pull shot and was bowled by Tandin but Robert Raina was now at the crease as Thailand’s run-chase had begun to stutter. The hosts were 39 for 3 at the end of the power play, having scored 6 runs for 3 wickets in the last 3 overs.
Thailand lost their fourth wicket when Robert Raina was caught at long on by Tobden Singye when he tried to hit out against Suprit who claimed his third wicket of the match and sixth of the tournament. Tandin Wangchuk finished with figures of 1 for 20. Ryan Raina was able to work the ball into the leg-side for a boundary that brought up Thailand’s fifty and Suprit completed an excellent spell of 3 for 8. Thailand were 52 for 4 after 10 overs.
Kumar Subba came on and kept up the pressure on as Ryan Raina has become the fifth man dismissed with the score on 55. Now was the moment that captain Jigme Singye had chosen to bowl his leg-spin and the head to head with Daniel Jacobs could well decide the match. The young Thai players were not supporting their captain as both Payuputh Sungnard and Sittipong Hongsi were caught in the off-side rather than trying to give their captain the strike. Worse was to follow as Jacobs was out for 48 caught off Jigme as Thailand lost their eighth wicket. With four overs left they were 76 for 8 and in danger of falling short of their target.
The final presentation at the end of a very exciting contest saw Jigme Singye named man of the match for his innings of 27 and figures of 2 for 22 including the crucial wicket of Daniel Jacobs. Jigme Singye was also named player of the tournament for his all-round performances which brought him five points from the umpires in their MVP awards. Suprit Pradhan was named bowler of the tournament for his six wickets, including three in the final, while some consolation for Thailand captain Daniel Jacobs was to be awarded batsmen of the tournament for his 106 runs. Myanmar were awarded the Spirit of Cricket Award for their wonderful efforts in the tournament. The presentation ceremony concluded with Thailand being awarded with their runners up prizes and of course Bhutan’s players receiving their medals and finally being presented with the winners’ trophy and the prized champions sign.
The third place play-off between Myanmar and China was played in the morning on a newly prepared surface which much more grass left on it than the other pitches used in the tournament, so Wang Zihao had little hesitation in asking Myanmar to bat first. Myanmar’s openers started well as Myanmar reached 34 for 0 in the first six overs. China’s spinners changed the complexion of the match as they began to tie down the openers and the pressure told as both were caught trying to play aggressive shots as off-spinner Han Junhui took two wickets in successive balls. Slow left-arm spinner Chen Zhouyue also took a wicket caught at mid-off as Myanmar were 52 for 3 after 10 overs.
Thu Ya Aung then began confidently for but the captain Htet Li Aung was run out by a direct throw from cover by Li Jian to leave the score on 66 for 4. Chen Zhouyue returned figures of 1 for 11 in 4 overs and Han Junjui claimed 2 for 26. Thu Ya Aung hit three lovely fours in his innings of 18 but he was fifth out and Myanmar had reached 80 for 5 after 15 overs.
Runs rather dried up for Myanmar towards the end of their innings as the Chinese fast bowlers Li Jian and Song Julin bowled with good discipline. The pressure told as Aung Ko Ko was run out as Myanmar lost their seventh wicket with score on 90 Three more wickets fell in the last over including another run out from the final ball of the 20th over as Li Jian finished with the excellent figures of 4 for 14 in 4 overs. Myanmar were bowled out for 93 as they lost five wickets for 13 in the last five overs. China would have had hopes of chasing down the target to claim third place in the competition.
China required 94 runs to win which would have been their highest total in the competition as they hadn’t been able to reach 80 in their two completed innings so far. The Chinese batsmen would need to play some shots as well as to defend the good balls. Tian Suqin was run out for 3 from 13 balls. China were 16 for one after 6 overs with 78 more runs needed for victory.
China had almost ground to a hold against Myanmar as they were only able to hit one boundary in the first 10 overs and their innings had had to subsist on a diet of singles interspersed with a large number of dots. Lu Cangcang tried to find the boundary but failed to clear long on. Myanmar’s bowling had been extremely tidy with Sai Htet Wai bowling four overs for 6 and Min Wai four overs for eight. A score of 21 for 2 at halfway stage meant Myanmar are very much on top.
Myanmar’s captain Htet Lin Aung can bowl both medium pace and spin depending on the conditions or state of the game and he took a wicket in each style with catches at deep mid-wicket and to the keeper. China were 47 for 4 after 15 overs, needing a further 47 to win from the last five overs.
Ten runs came from the 16th over as Gao Guohao hit a six and China started to show some urgency. An incredible turnaround could be on the cards as China at last hit a two and Zhang Yufei followed up by clubbing another six off Aung Ko Ko who had taken four wickets in the earlier match against China. Nine runs came off the 17th over. The pressure was beginning to tell in the field for Myanmar but Khin Aye bowled a steady over. 22 runs were needed from the last two overs.
Zhang Yufei was now batting like MS Dhoni after his slow start as 10 runs came from the 19th over despite the run out of Gao Guohao. Khin Aye bowled the last over…dot, two, two and so 8 were needed to win from the last three balls. Another dot despite a big swing and then the decisive moment as the ball sailed into the air and long-off caught a steepler. Zhang Yufei was out for 44 and China finished on 88 for 6 to fall five runs short. Myanmar had won the third place play-off but what a fantastic end to an interesting contest.
China had managed to score 67 runs in the last ten overs but still fell just short. Zhang Yufei played batted brilliantly in the later stages but Li Jian was named man of the match for his figures of 4 for 14. Both sides deserve a lot of credit for participating in a wonderful match.