Afghanistan lift farcical Under-17 Challenge Cup
The ACC Under-17 Challenge Cup concluded in Thailand today, with Afghanistan beating Oman by 42 runs in the final in Bangkok.
The group stage of the tournament started on Monday, and it saw a low scoring start, with Afghanistan failing to chase Oman's total of 111, losing by 21 runs, Iran beat Myanmar by 97 runs, and Thailand beating the Maldives by one wicket, chasing 97.
The second day saw China get a good start against the Maldives with them bowling out the islanders for just 68, Wang Jing taking five wicket for just nine runs, but they themselves were bowled out for just 29. The other two matches of the day saw big wins for the eventual finalists. Afghanistan beat Myanmar by eight wickets, chasing down 76 in just 8.5 overs, and Oman thrash Iran by 202 runs after scoring 245/5 from their 40 overs.
There was just one game on the tournament's third day, and it was at this point that the tournament began to become something of a farce. China only brought twelve players to the event, and when three of them got injured, they continued to play with just nine. Thailand bowled them out for just 17, Jai Bhagwat taking five wickets for just two runs, and they knocked off the runs required in 28 deliveries.
However, despite losing both their first round matches by heavy margins, China still qualified for the semi-finals. Learning no lessons from last years player eligiblity problems in the Under-15 tournament, both the Maldives and Iran had brought over age players to the tournament. With only three teams in China's group, they progressed to the semi-finals with Thailand.
The final day of the group stage saw two more big wins for Afghanistan and Oman, beating Iran by 10 wickets and Myanmar by nine wickets respectively.
After a rest day, the semi-finals were played yesterday. Afghanistan easily beat Thailand by 151 runs, whilst Oman had an even easier time against the woeful Chinese team. Batting first, they scored 298/2 from their 40 overs, with Avinash Shekar (107) and Gaurav Honavar (111) both scoring centuries. They then bowled out the nine-man Chinese team for 26, winning by 272 runs,
China will have been seriously embarrassed by their performance in this tournament. Despite the large sums of money poured into developing the game there by the ACC and ICC, they are showing little progress. It will be hoped that the senior team don't show themselves up in this way when they make their debut early next year, otherwise serious questions will start to be asked about why they get so much development money.
So, onto the final day. The 5th place play-off wasn't played due to the ineligiblity of Iran and the Maldives, and Thailand predictably thrashed China (by 205 runs) in the third place match. The final saw Afghanistan score 185/4 before bowling Oman out for 143.
Both Afghanistan and Oman will now be promoted to the Elite division for the ACC Under-17 competition, and deservedly so. They were by a long way the best two teams in the tournament, and the two matches they played against each other were the only real contests of the entire event.