Nepal beat South Africa, enter final

Colombo, February 16:

In a nail-biting finish, Nepal upset mighty South Africa by two runs to secure the berth for the Plate Championship final in the U-19 World Cup here at Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground today.

Electing to bat first, Nepal scored 214 for the loss of eight wickets in 50 overs. In reply, the Test-playing nation was three runs short (212/5) to avenge the one wicket defeat they had sustained in 2004.

Thanks to the composure and discipline bowling attack of Nepal that helped pull a major upset in the Plate Championship. Skipper Kaniska Chaugain led the team scoring 59 off 81 balls to post a competative total. Chaugain put on 67-run opening stand with Mahesh Chhetri (15) and 38 for the second wicket with Sharad Veswakar (19). Chaugian’s half century, second in the tournament, included six fours and a six.

At one stage, Nepal was 105/1 and looked to score a huge total but spinners Jean Symes and Richard Das Neves put brakes to Nepal’s scoring. Left-armer Symes was economical in his 10 overs giving away just 15 runs while claiming three wickets including that of Chaugain. Off-spinner Das Neves went wicketless but conceded just 25 runs in his 10 overs.

Gyanendra Malla, whose 64 against Uganda was vital in helping his side’s win, once again held the middle order together. Malla scored unbeaten 46 in 71 balls with six fours but South Africa’s Malusi Siboto ensured Nepal were unable to break freeing the latter stages of their innings. He picked up 4-47.

For Africa, D Elgar was unbeaten on 66 off 65 balls. R Ramoo (38), P Daneel (32), B Thomson (31) and J Shymes (20) contributed valuable runs and the similarity among the batsmen were they faced too many balls following the strict Nepali bowling attack. Basanta Regmi took three wickets and Amrit Bhattarai one for Nepal. They also effected one run out.

Nepali skipper Chaugain said that everything went right for them. “The toss was crucial while we were at our best in bowling, batting and fielding,” man-of-the-match Chaugain said. “The whole team put up a marvellous fight especially Basanta Regmi and Paras Khadka are to be credited for bowling last two overs that gave us a win.”

South Africa needed just 16 runs in those two overs. Regmi’s last over was also crucial as he dismissed Ramoo in the 49.2 overs breaking 106-run partnership with Elgar.

Nepali coach Roy Luke Dias termed it as a “biggest” win. “It isn’t that easy to defeat the South Africans,” Dias said, praising spinners, especially Regmi and Khadka, for their brilliant effort.

South African coach Ray Jennings also openly praised Nepal’s performance. “Nepal deserved the victory,” he said adding that his batsmen failed to cope with the Nepali spinners which kept on added pressure until the end. “Nepal displayed all round performace,” he said.

Nepal will meet New Zealand in Saturday’s final.