Nepal book berth in semis, create history

Kathmandu, November 14

Nepali youth cricket team thrashed hosts Malaysia by eight wickets and advanced to the semi-finals of the ACC U-19 Youth Asia Cup at Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur today.

This is the first time Nepal has made it to the knockout stage of the competition in four appearances. Nepal won two matches to finish as Group A runners-up behind Bangladesh, who remained unbeaten. Nepal’s semi-final berth was secured after Bangladesh thrashed India by eight wickets in another match today.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan thrashed the United Arab Emirates by 134 runs and topped Group B, while Pakistan finished as group runners-up. In the semi-finals, Nepal will take on Afghanistan, while Bangladesh will play against Pakistan. Three-time champions India and hosts Malaysia were knocked out of the tournament from Group A, while Sri Lanka and the UAE were eliminated from Group B.

Earlier, rain threatened to wash out all the matches.

In a match which was reduced to 24-overs-a-side, Nepal bowled Malaysia out for a paltry 45 runs in 15.3 overs, thanks to Sandeep Lamichhane’s five-wicket haul. Nepal then raced to 48-2 in just 32 balls.

Malaysia  made a mediocre start with openers Syed Aziz Syed Mubarak (20) and  skipper Virandeep Jagjit Singh (10) putting on 33 runs before Anil Kumar Sah made the breakthrough when he had the latter caught by Jitendra Singh in the sixth over. Except for the two openers, other Malaysian batsmen failed to reach double figures and six of them were out for duck.

Lamichhane finished with magical figures of 5-8 from 4.3 overs, while skipper Airee gave away just two runs in two overs and claimed a wicket. Shahab Alam claimed two wickets conceding three runs in three overs, while Anil Kumar Sah claimed 1-1 from one over.

In reply, Nepal achieved the target riding on opener Anil Kumar Sah’s unbeaten 15-ball 26 that included a boundary and three sixes. After Asif Sheikh (four) was dismissed in the fifth over, skipper Airee hit two sixes in his three-ball 12. Vijay Unni claimed both the wickets for Malaysia.

Nepal head coach Binod Das lauded his team’s overall performance. “We are in semi-finals with wonderful performance from the players. The boys have performed consistently throughout the tournament and the hard work is finally paying off,” said the former U-19 and national team skipper.

Das credited the spinners for making it an easy match. “The situation was tricky today but we stuck to the plan. The start did not go well with the ball, but once the spinners came in we dominated. In batting, we had planned to attack from the word go and Anil batted well,” he added.