HEMANTA RAJ KAFLE
BRISBANE: Nepal lost to Papua New Guinea (PNG) by eight wickets in their first official practice match of the ICC U-19 World Cup at the Albury Oval in Brisbane today.
Electing to bat first, Nepal were all for a below-par 213-9 in 43.3 overs against a team whom they had defeated by 46 runs during the ICC U-19 World Qualifiers in Ireland last year. Skipper Prithu Baskota was retired hurt in the 11th over. PNG, in reply, rode on a fine century from Lega Siaka as they reached the target in 40.3 overs losing only two wickets.
Nepal never managed to put PNG in trouble after Siaka was involved in match winning partnerships before his splendid innings ended in the 38th over for a 112-ball 106. Spinner Rahul Kumar BK got rid of the opener but by that time PNG had already crossed 200 runs.
Siaka — who hit 11 boundaries and four sixes — gave PNG a perfect start adding 77 runs for the first wicket with Vagi Oala (35) in 21.1 overs. Oala was the first victim of Rahul, stumped by wicketkeeper Subash Khakurel. New man Christopher Kent then took the match away adding 126 runs with Siaka. Kent was the most aggressive of the two as he clobbered three sixes and two boundaries to make 55 runs in 54 balls.
Earlier, Nepal got off to a modest start when openers Subash and Pradeep Airee (25) added 44 runs for the first wicket in 6.1 overs. But once Pradeep was dismissed and Prithu retired hurt due to ankle injury, Nepal were quickly reduced to 77-4. Team physio Thirana suggested Prithu not to take risk after the skipper twisted his ankle while scampering for a single.
Subash and No 7 batsman Hashim Ansari then rebuilt Nepali innings with a 90-run stand for the fifth wicket. Subash made an impressive 68 from 85 balls hitting eight boundaries. Hashim added another 27 runs for the sixth wicket with Faizlur Rehman (five) and with the latter's dismissal, Nepal lost their last four wickets for just 23 runs. Explosive Hashim was the top scorer in Nepali innings smashing 81 runs from 80 deliveries with 11 fours.
Chad Soper did most of the damage to Nepal picking up five wickets in miserly 7.3 overs spell conceding only 22 runs. Nepal's coach Pubudu Dassanayake said his batsmen were over confident. "Some of our boys played bad shot because of over confidence. The loss has given us an opportunity to evaluate ourselves for the next match," said the coach. Nepal will play New Zealand on Wednesday.
In other warm-up matches today, England defeated Pakistan by five wickets, while West Indies stunned defending champions Australia by 13 runs. Also, Bangladesh beat Scotland by seven wickets and South Africa cruised past New Zealand by six wickets.
Meanwhile, India overcame Sri Lanka by 33 runs, Afghanistan crushed Ireland by 101 runs and Zimbabwe overwhelmed Namibia by seven wickets.