Nepal begin with New Zealand scalp

Kathmandu, January 28

Nepal defeated New Zealand by 32 runs to begin the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup campaign on a winning note at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah today.

Put in to bat first, Nepal scored 238-7 in 50 overs and packed New Zealand for 206 runs in 46.1 overs to register their second victory against the Test-playing nation in as many encounters.

Nepal had defeated the Kiwis by one wicket in the Plate Championship final in 2006. The total was also the highest for Nepal in U-19 World Cup, beating the previous best of 234-8 against Ireland in their 60-run victory in Bangladesh in 2006.

Nepal made a confident start with openers Sandeep Sunar and Sunil Dhamala scoring 39 runs in 8.4 overs before the latter was dismissed for 15 off 26 balls that included three fours.

Nepal lost another wicket in the form of Yogendra Singh Karki (six) and were reduced to 68-3 when Sunar departed after scoring 39 off 60 balls that included three fours and a six.

Skipper Raju Rijal and his deputy Aarif Sheikh then steadied the ship with a 61-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Rijal top scored with 48 off 65 balls hitting six fours.

Sheikh and Raj Bir Singh added 47 runs for the fifth wicket before they fell in the space of four runs to be 180-6 in 43.2 overs. Sheikh struck three boundaries in his 60-ball 39, while Singh scored 24 off 38 balls.

Dipendra Singh Airee (16) and Kushal Bhurtel took Nepal past 200-run mark with a 40-run stand for the seventh wicket.

Bhurtel remained unbeaten on 35 off just 23 balls that included five boundaries, while Prem Tamang scored not out four as the duo added 18 runs for the unbroken eighth wicket.

Nathan Smith was the pick of the Kiwis bowlers taking 3-58 from 10 overs, while Christian Leopard, Aniket Parik, Rachin Ravindra and skipper Josh Finnie grabbed one wicket each.

Nepal then struck early to reduce the Kiwis to 16-1 inside four overs when Sandeep Lamichhane ran out Ravindra (four). Finn Allen (11) was the next to go, clean bowled by Dhamala in the ninth over.

Glenn Phillips and Finnie added 72 runs for the third wicket that briefly threatened to take the match away from Nepal. Prem Tamang’s double blow and a run out saw New Zealand lose three wickets in the space of seven runs to be 110-5.

Tamang had Phillips, who scored 52 off 68 balls hitting five fours and a six, caught by substitute fielder Shankar Rana before the right-arm offbreak bowler took a return catch to dismiss the Finnie (37). Bhurtel then ran Leopard out for one.

Josh Clarkson and Dale Phillips added 34 runs for the sixth wicket before Airee ran the latter out for 41 off 50 balls, while Airee bowled Aniket Parikh (11) and Nathan Smith (24) to reduce the Kiwis to 202-8 in 46.2 overs.

New Zealand then lost the last two wickets for four runs as Nepal recorded a convincing 32-run victory. Airee returned with the figures of 3-24 from five overs, while Prem Tamang took 2-38 from 10 overs.

Sunil Dhamala and Sandeep Lamichhane claimed one wicket each. Nepal skipper Raju Rijal was named the man-of-the-match.

Nepal head coach Jagat Tamatta was more than happy with the overall performance of the team. “Boys played very well today.

They worked very hard in all three departments,” said Tamatta. “The players executed the plan and the batting was superb,” he said, adding the team would also put up a strong show against Ireland on January 30.

Assistant coach Binod Das said the match went as per the plan and the team was able to put up runs on the board before backing that with disciplined bowling and fielding.

“This team believed that they can beat New Zealand and they did it with some really quality cricket,” said the former skipper.

Das, however, said the win would not ease anything in Nepal’s campaign of advancing to the second round. “Ireland is a good team and we need to play good cricket to beat them. It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “We need to back ourselves to play well against any team in this composition.”

“This was a great win for us,” Nepal skipper Rijal told ICC. “We fielded brilliantly to effect three run-outs and that turned the match for us.” New Zealand skipper Josh Finnie said his side messed up what should have been a comfortable run-chase.