Saudi Arabia have easily been the strongest team in this tournament so far, so it is no surprise that they are in the final, though Bhutan beating the second placed Maldives is a mild surprise, though they had a hard fought victory.
The Maldives won toss and sent Bhutan in to bat, soon reducing them to 34/3 in the 13th over before a 73 run partnership between Tashi (34) and Thinley Jamtsho (47) recovered the innings. Ahmed Hassan, the eighth bowler used by the Maldives then took 3/11 from four overs to help spark a small batting collapse, and Bhutan were eventually dismissed for 182 in their 48th over.
Top scoring for Bhutan was actually the extras given away by the Maldives, 50 in total. These would prove crucial in the final reckoning.
The Maldives' run chase was similar to Bhutan's innings, as they lost two early wickets to Thinley Jamtsho before an innings of 62 from Husham Ibrahim helped them rebuild. Jamtsho came back into the attack to take another two wickets (finishing with 4/29 from 8 overs) which caused a collapse and left the Maldives bowled out for 176 in the 49th over, losing by six runs.
The Maldives batsmen had actually outscored their Bhutanese counterparts by ten runs, but Bhutan's bowlers conceded 16 fewer extras, meaning that the Maldives only have the 41 wides bowled by their bowlers to blame for their loss. Given the wides that were so frequent in European youth cricket last year, accuracy really has to be something that youth bowling coaches need to concentrate on in future.
Saudi Arabia had a much easier path to the final, with a 191 run demolition of China.
The Saudis batted first and reached 294/8 from their 50 overs, Muhammad Imran top scoring with 70, whilst Waqar Obeidy also contributed with a quick-fire 54. Li Jian was the only Chinese bowler to emerge with any credit, conceding just 21 runs from his ten overs.
In China's reply, Zhang Yufei was China's lone performer, scoring 47 from 49 balls. No other batsman could stay at the crease long enough to let them put in any sort of chase, and they were dismissed for 103 in the 24th over. Anwar Hussein took four wickets for just eight runs, adding to his 49 when batting to make him an obvious choice for the man of the match award.
The ease of Saudi Arabia's win over China should be worrying for the ICC, who have put a lot of faith in China. Saudi Arabia became an ICC affiliate member only one year before China, and Saudi Arabia have already played in two ACC Trophy tournaments, and are in the top division at Under-15 and now Under-19 level, whilst China have not yet fielded a team at senior level and have won just one match at Under-15 level.
Maldives lost to Bhutan by 6 runs
Gymkhana Club, Chiang Mai
Bhutan 182 (47.3 overs, Thinley Jamtsho 47, Ahmed Hassan 3/11)
Maldives 176 (48.4 overs, Husham Ibrahim 62, Thinley Jamtsho 4/29, Dilip Subba 3/35)
China lost to Saudi Arabia by 191 runs
Prem Center, Chiang Mai
Saudi Arabia 294/8 (50 overs, Muhammad Imran 70, Waqas Obeidy 54, Anwar Hussain 49)
Bhutan 103 (23.3 overs, Zhang Yufei 47, Anwar Hussain 4/8, Muhammad Imran 3/17)