Singapore defeated Kuwait by six wickets to win the ACC Under-15 Elite Cup in Bhaktapur, Nepal. It was, however, a slightly hollow victory, as eight of the ten competing sides had earlier been disqualified for fielding over-age players, and so Singapore and Kuwait contested the final as they were the only teams remaining in the competition.
The Asian Cricket Council had taken drastic action on Saturday and kicked out hosts and defending champions Nepal as well as Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Thailand after its medical board reported that all the squads from those countries contained players over the stipulated age limit. Sunday's semi-finals - Nepal v Singapore and Afghanistan v Hong Kong - were scrapped.
"In instances where more than two players in each 14-man squad have been found to be over-aged, the teams have been disqualified from the competition," an ACC media spokesman explained. He added that some teams contained as many as nine over-age players. "One hundred and forty radiology examinations have been conducted in Nepal since the team's arrival with all the players from the ten participating teams," he added.
Ashraful Haq, the ACC's chief executive, met team managers to explain the decision. "Our age-verification protocols have been tested and proven to work," he said. "We stand by the results found. In the long-run, cricket in Asia will benefit. Results such as this should act an eye-opener to all our members."
The tournament had already got off to a bad start when UAE were sent home as their squad did not contain any UAE passport-holders.
An ACC spokesman explained that age verification was not easy in some areas. "All countries were asked to provide the appropriate medical data on each of their players before the tournament started. They did not comply."