Years of planning and preparation paid off last week when The Maldives won their first ever international sporting tournament by triumphing in the ACC Emerging Nations Trophy. In the final, Maldives beat the host nation Thailand by 117 runs.
Speaking after the victory, Ahmed Hassan Didi, Vice Chairman of the Cricket Control Board of Maldives, said “The whole country is very proud of our cricketers and they will be returning to a heroes’ welcome. Our President, His Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been a tremendous supporter of cricket and this victory is dedicated to the whole of the country as it rebuilds itself after the devastating disaster of 26 December 2004.”
The Maldives powered through the Emerging Nations Tournament which was contested between them, Bhutan, Brunei and Thailand, by winning all their preliminary matches on their way to the final. There were creditable performances by all teams, with Bhutan and Brunei showing much promise.
For the home team, slow left-arm spinner Nishad Rego and opening bowler Sahan Ranamukharaachchi impressed, as did the opener Shyam Sideek. But it was the Maldives captain, all-rounder Moosa Kaleem who dominated proceedings with 8 wickets and 467 runs in the Tournament. He scored 116 in the Final to go along with his earlier 102 against Thailand and astonishing 219 against Brunei.
The ACC’s Development Officers assigned to The Maldives, Dr. Vece Paes and Rumesh Ratnayake have been delighted with the progress shown by the team. “To beat Thailand on their own turf is no mean feat and shows just how competitive Maldives have become in the region”, said Rumesh Ratnayake.