Nepal beat Singapore, enter semis

Kuala Lumpur, July 28:

Nepal defeated Singapore by six wickets and entered the semi-finals of the ACC Trophy Elite Cup here today.

With the win Nepal accumulated six points from three matches to stay atop Group B, while Hong Kong have four points. Singapore and Kuwait have two points each. The top teams from both the groups will qualify for the semi-finals.

Batting first after winning the toss at the Kinara Oval, Singapore struggled to 155-9 in 50 overs and Nepal overcame the target losing four wickets in 40.5 overs, thanks to the patience knocks from the vice captain Paras Khadka and Shakti Gauchan.

Chasing the victory target of 156 runs, Nepal lost three quick wickets and came under pressure at 39-3. Opener Paresh Lohani departed for just three runs, while other opener Kanishka Chaugain (16) and Sharad Vesawkar (9) also fell cheaply.

Both the openers were bowled by Pramod Raja. Lohani played on to his stumps while trying to drive the ball, whereas Chaugain failed to read the line and was bowled after scoring 16 off 31 balls including a boundary. Vesawkar was bowled by Sayed Ali Muhammad.

Gyanendra Malla and Paras Khadka pulled the team out of trouble with the 56-runs stand for the fourth wicket, before Malla (17) went on for a big shot and got caught by S Sayed Ali Muhammad at the boundary line.

After that, Paras and Shakti Gauchan saw Nepal home with an unbroken stand of 62 runs. Paras hit eight fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 71 off 91 balls, while Shakti scored not out 30 off 46 balls that included four hits to fence. Paras, who has scored 156 runs in the tournament so far, was named the man of the match.

Pramod Raj took 2-28, while Sayed and M Nasir Madakia claimed one wicket each for Singapore.

Nepal coach Roy Luke Dias was happy with the win but was concerned with the opening pair’s failure in all the three matches. He also hinted at reshuffling the batting order in Wednesday’s last league match against Kuwait. Dias also praised Alam for his aggressive bowling and Paras and Shakti for their patience batting. Skipper Binod Das also praised the middle order batsmen for their effort. “The middle order has been delivering despite the failure of the openers,” he said.

Earlier, seamer Mehboob Alam wrecked the Singapore top order with swing bowling. He bowled out the top three batsmen cheaply as Singapore batsmen struggled to read his deliveries. Alam dismissed opener G Meyer with the second ball of the innings for a duck. He added another scalp when he bowled Sayed Muhammad for a 14-ball duck. Alam then dismissed C Suryawanshi, who scored 32 off 37 balls including three fours and two sixes.

After losing the first three wickets for 56 runs, Singapore batsmen failed to build partnerships and gave away the wickets on regular intervals. Skipper C Kumarage fought a lonely battle could not get support from others. The No 4 batsman top-scored with 40 off 83 balls, including three fours and a six before being the seventh man out. M Shoib (12) and I Madakia (13) shared an unbroken stand of 25 runs, the second best of the innings, for the 10th wicket.

While Alam had a fiery spell of 10-3-25-3, Gauchan took 2-17 off 10 overs. Paras, Raj Kumar Pradhan and Basanta Regmi claimed one wicket each.