ICC WCL division V: Nepal lose to Afghans as batting falters

Kathmandu, May 30:

Afghanistan defeated Nepal by 37 runs in the semi-final of the ICC World Cricket League Division-V Tournament dashing Nepal’s hopes of playing the 2011 World Cup.

Chasing the victory target of 143 runs, Nepal were bowled out for 105 runs in 45.5 overs. Nepal did shine with the ball, but once again batting faltered and Nepal cricket was pushed into deep trouble.

With only one event - National Tournament - in a year to play, the senior team players will have no option but to look for alternatives as they have just one major international event remaining in a year after the lackluster show.

Nepal travelled all the way to Jersey with a hope to qualify for the World Cricket League Division-IV and thereby 2011 World Cup. But, one bad day and all gone in vain.

After winning four matches in group stage, Nepali cricketers, especially batsmen, faltered when it mattered most. The bowlers did fairly good job restricting Afghanistan to 142 runs, but the batting line up succumbed.

Nepali bowlers put continuous pressure on the Afghanistan batsmen and at one stage they were reeling at 83-5 in 32 overs. Afghanistan managed to take the score to 142, but the Nepali batsmen fell one after another, as if they were in a great hurry.

Nepal came under early pressure when they lost opener Paresh Lohani for a duck in the second ball of the inning. Sharad Vesawkar (3) fell in the fourth over with just 12 runs on the board.

Mahesh Chhetri and Shakti Gauchan added 25 runs for the third wicket, but when Chhetri (9) lost his wicket, Nepal were 37-3 in 19.1 overs. Three more wickets fell for just 18 runs with Shakti Gauchan (9), Gyanendra Malla (11) and Paras Khadka (1) losing their grounds.

After the departure of the trio, all the hopes were wrested to Mehboob Alam and Basanta Gauchan. The duo kept the scoreboard ticking and added 25 runs for the seventh wicket, but Regmi (10) could not last long, that left Nepal at 72-7 in 33 overs.

Alam and skipper Binod Das took the score to 97 before Alam - the last hope - fell in the 41.5 overs scoring 17 runs. Das fell for 12 runs, while Raj Kumar Pradhan was stumped for one as Nepal lost the remaining two wickets for eight runs before being packed for 105 runs, including 27 which came through sundries. Sanjam Regmi remained unbeaten on five.

Dawlat Ahmadzai took 3-18, while Gul Abed, Hamid Hassan and Nabi Eisakhil took two wickets each for Afghanistan.

Earlier, Shakti Gauchan and Basnata Regmi took three wickets apiece as Nepal restricted Afghanistan to 142. Skipper Das took 2-22, while Alam and Raj Kumar Pradhan pocketed one each. Gauchan conceded just 12 runs in his eight-over spell, whereas Regmi yielded 30 in 8.3 overs.

Nepal should have bowled out Afghanistan below hundred, but two partnerships lifted them. Nepal reduced Afghanistan for 40-4 in 20 overs but Mohammad Stanikzai (18) and M Nabi Eisakhil added 43 runs for the fifth wicket. Eisakhil, who top-scored with 48, added further 36 runs for the sixth wicket with Rais Ahmadzai (22). The last four wickets added 23 runs for Afghanistan.