The game, which was live streamed on the Asian Cricket Council’s Facebook page in what is becoming a welcome norm across the emerging cricket world, saw the hosts win the toss and elect to bat.
By eighth over Malaysia had lost their first three wickets, including last week’s centurion Vishvaruben Kumar, to Thailand’s medium pacers. A 30 run partnership between opener Wan Amirul Zulkarnain and captain Vijay Unni saw the score climb steadily to 3-66 in twentieth over before a spectacular collapse saw them slump to 8-75 and finally to 94 all out.
Thailand’s spinners in particular bowled an impressive line and length. Sarawut Maliwan finished with 5-34 off 8, his in-drifting left-armers doing damage on a relatively flat wicket.
No doubt a score well below par for a side that scored 267 against the same opposition last week.
At 3-48 in 16 overs Thailand may have fancied their chances of a famous upset, and a possible place in the semi-final. The loss of key batsman Kongkidakon Ruengrotchanachai in the next over precipitated their own collapse. By the twenty-third over, Thailand were reeling at 8-63, their hopes of pulling off a win fading.
A thirteen run partnership for the tenth wicket saw them inch closer, but the impressive Amir Azim Abd Shukor returned to bowl Sarawut with a straighter one and seal a narrow victory for the hosts.
Across town Singapore had much less trouble against an inexperienced Chinese side. Captain Vinit Mehta ran through the opposition with his off-spinners, harvesting superlative figures of 7 -8 off 6 as China slumped to 30 all out. Singapore polished off the required runs well before lunch two wickets down.
Myanmar’s late withdrawal sees Singapore claim the first semi-final spot.
The tournament continues tomorrow with a triple-header. Favorites Nepal play China; Malaysia will look to claim a semi-final birth with a win against Bhutan; and Hong Kong take on Thailand.
Tune in to the Asian Cricket Council’s facebook page for live updates.