Asian Cricket Council Challenge play-offs January 20, 2009

Wild optimism follows China's win

Cricinfo staff


China celebrate their first win © Getty Images
 
China finally turned in a performance to quell if not silence criticism of their large-scale funding in beating Myanmar by 118 runs in the Asian Cricket Council Challenge, a game one wag labelled "the battle of the dictatorships". That the victory was in the bottom-place play-off and came after three massive defeats will not be lost on those watching China's progress carefully.

China made 181 in 39.3 overs, more than three times their previous highest total, with allrounder Li Jian making 32 and then taking 4 for 16 as Myanmar were dismissed for 63. For the first time, more than two Chinese batsmen reached double figures - Wang Lei (30) and Wang Ronggang (23) chipping in with decent scores.

"It has been tough so far but we won today because of team-work and the co-operation of all," China's captain Zhao Yang said afterwards, while coach Rashid Khan rather bullishly predicted that China would be in the top ten non Test-playing countries within five years.

China's achievement should, however, be put in some perspective. Myanmar were easily the weakest team in the tournament, totalling 12 against Oman, including nine ducks.

In the fifth/sixth-place play-off, Iran beat Brunei by 52 runs after posting 274 for 9 and bowling Brunei out for 222. Shermohammad Baloochnezhad top-scored for Iran with 74.

In Wednesday's tomorrow, Oman will start as overwhelming favourites to beat Bhutan, who qualified after a shock semi-final win over Thailand.