Team effort behind Singapore U-16s’ victory

An all-round team performance helped Singapore beat arch-rivals Malaysia by 29 runs in their opening Group B match at the Asian Cricket Council Under-16 Easter Region tournament in Chiang Mai on December 11.

Batting first after winning the toss, Singapore’s total of 151-8 in 35 overs was decent on a pitch that played true at the Prem Tinsulonanda International School ground.

They lost their opener and skipper Aman Desai (1) in the third ball of the match, but then a 37 run second-wicket partnership between Sai Harsha Venugopal (21 off 36 balls) and Ishaan Sawney (15/23) steadied their innings.

Another partnership of 35 runs between Sai Harsha and Pramesh Singhavi (30/42) took them to 75-3 in 15.3 overs, before they lost another three wickets for the addition of 45 runs to be 120-6 in 31 overs.

It looked like they were in a spot of bother as Malaysian spinner Mohammad Afiq claimed 4-28. But they managed to plunder 31 runs in the last four overs, with Raoul Sharma blasting 20 off 12 balls, including two sixes.

“Any total over 150 is a good one at this level,” said Singapore’s coach Chetan Suryawanshi. “All the batsmen contributed and that was the key to our respectable total.”

Aman said he was always confident that Singapore could restrict Malaysia to less than 150.

That seemed a difficult task when the Malaysian batsmen galloped to 55-2 in 8.1 overs, with Sandeep Supparamaniam slamming 27 off 24 balls.

But then three quick wickets halted the run flow and Singapore’s bowlers took wickets regularly to bowl out Malaysia for 122 in 25 overs.

Malaysia’s batsmen wasted nearly 10 overs. Better application might have taken them closer to Singapore’s total.

Singapore’s medium-pacers and spinners stuck to their task to clinch victory, with Aiden Sherry taking 2-37, Raoul 2-20, Ishaan (2-16) and Ratik Bhatnagar 2-16. Vinit Mehta (1-6) and Pramesh (1-11) also chipped in.

Singapore’s cause was aided by good fielding.

“Maybe we could have put on more runs,” said Aman. “But I was sure our bowlers would do the job. Initially we gave away too many runs. But we soon got the breakthrough and Malaysian wickets began to fall regularly. I think overall it was an all-round team performance that got us through.”

Chetan also gave credit to Aman’s captaincy, saying the 15-year-old made shrewd bowling changes which tilted the match in Singapore’s favour.

Singapore’s other matches against Bhutan (December 12) and China (December 14) in Group B should be comparatively easier encounters.

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