Das leads Nepal to maiden victory over UAE

Mahesh Acharya

Kathmandu, May 9:

Binod Das took five wickets as Nepal beat the UAE by 172 run in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and the ACC Fast Track Countries’ Tournament here at TU Stadium today. The win was Nepal’s first over the UAE in senior level. But on a disappointing note, Nepal missed a spot in Intercontinental Cup semis by a whisker.

Crown Prince Paras, who is also the patron of National Sports Council, also watched the match for about one and half hours.

Set 289 to win, the UAE were all out for 76. Had Nepal packed the visitors below 75, they would have advanced to the Intercontinental Cup to be held in Namibia next year. Nepal accumulated 32 points, while UAE earned 11 points.

“This is a very important win for us,” said coach Roy Dias. “They are the best side among non-Test playing nations, and after beating them, we can beat any side,” he added.

“Our batsmen performed well, whereas the bowlers and fielders were outstanding,” said the Sri Lankan coach, who could not stop his tears rolling down to his cheeks.

“It is disappointing that we missed a chance to qualify for the Intercontinental Cup semis, but our first priority was to beat them,” said Dias, who thanked the spectators for their tremendous support.

“Fantastic crowd. This might be the only country among the non-Test playing nations where the fans support their team in such a fabulous way,” sad Dias. “They even beat the weather,” he added.

Earlier, Nepal packed off the UAE for 164 in the first innings, and declared their second innings at 125/6, with Kanishka Chaugain missing his maiden half century by two runs. Nepal scored 287/7 in the first innings, riding on Sharad Vesawkar’s brilliant 89.

In the second innings that started after lunch due to overnight rain, Mehboob Alam started the UAE collapse dismissing opener Ryan Chadda in the fifth over. Das made it 12/2, when he rattled Samir Zia’s stumps just before tea. The UAE batsmen then struggled to build partnerships and the wickets tumbled in regular intervals. At one stage, the visitors were at 29/6.

As Nepal was looking for a spot in the Intercontinental Cup semis by packing UAE below 75, Ahmed Nadeem, who was dropped on 18 by Shakti Gauchan, added 20 runs with Md Tasqkeen for the eighth wicket. Nadeem top-scored in the innings with 32 off 38 balls including four boundaries and a six. Nepal restored their chances after his dismissal at 67 and Shakti claimed Taskeen at the score of 69.

But, No 10 batsman Zahid Shah, who remained unbeaten on nine off seven overs, hit a six over the mid-wicket off Shakti dashing Nepal’s hopes. Skipper Binod Das, who took 6-29 against Hong Kong last week, was the best bowler in this match also taking 5-27, while Shakti and Dhirendra Chand claimed two each.

UAE coach Abid Ali was not satisfied with his boys’ performance. “They played negative cricket right from the beginning,” he said. “We were lucky to get into the semi-finals just because luck was not on Nepal’s part,” said Ali, who gave Rs 17,000 to groundstaff for their hard work, making it playable despite frequent rain.

The loss was first for the UAE coach after taking over in 2002. In that year, UAE had defeated Nepal twice — in the preliminary round and in the final of the ACC Trophy held in Singapore. T B Shah, acting president of CAN, gave away the winner’s trophy, while tournament director and CAN vice president Shree Niwas Rana handed over the man of the match award.