Nepal-Afghanistan final today
Himalayan News Service
Kathmandu, April 21:
Nepal take on Afghanistan in the final of the ACC Under-15 Asia Cup cricket tournament in UAE on Friday, eying first title of the year to give a ray of hope to the fans who were disappointed by the senior team during the World Cup qualifying campaign earlier this year.
Nepal lost its ground when the senior team went down to lowly Fiji by just three runs in the semi-finals of the World Cup Qualifying Tournament held in Malaysia earlier this year. A win could have given Nepal a chance to play in the World Cup 2007, though the roads ahead were not easy. Nepal will have a psychological advantage in the final, as the Nepali colts have already defeated the Afghanistan by six wickets in Group D league-round match. Nepal, who registered a thumping nine-wicket victory over Qatar in the inaugural day match on April 12, topped the group with 10 points, while Afghanistan advanced to the last eight as runners-up.
In the quarter-finals, Nepal registered another huge victory beating Bahrain by 10 wickets, while the Nepali lads thrashed hosts UAE by 140 runs to enter the final.
Nepal, who lost to two Test-playing nations in the last edition, became one of the hottest favourites to win the Under-15 title after the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) decided not to include Test-playing nations from this edition. In last edition of the tournament, also held in UAE in 2003, Nepal beat Test-playing Bangladesh and all the non-Test playing nations to reach the semi-finals before going down to Pakistan, who went on to win the tournament. Nepal’s only other loss in that edition was against India, also by 27 runs. The pressure will definitely be on Afghanistan as they lost to Nepal in the league round, and they will also remember their national team’s loss to Nepal in the fourth ACC Trophy held in Malaysia in 2004. However, Afghanistan cannot not be underestimated, as they are also in the final with some impressive wins.