Mahesh Acharya

Kuala Lumpur, June 14:

Mehboob Alam and Shakti Gauchan took five wickets as Nepal crushed Iran by 10 wickets and entered the quarter-finals of the fifth ACC Trophy tournament here at Kelab Aman Club today.

Nepal’s win also ensured Bhutan in the last eight after they beat Iran on Sunday. Nepal topped the Group D with 12 points, while Bhutan finished runner-up in the 3-team group after Brunei opted out. Nepal’s plan to bat first was shattered in the morning when skipper Raju Khadka lost the toss, but the things got awry for the Iranians when Mehboob got off to a flying start with two wickets in the first two balls. Mehboob trapped opener Loghman Sheikhi leg before wicket in the first ball.

Mehboob’s second ball also proved fruitful when trapped the new batsman Gholam Reza. Mehboob was on a hat-trick and the whole team was excited when his full length delivery hit Gholam Hussein Mehrazar’s pad, and the players appealed, but were turned down by the umpire. Mehboob got his third wicket in the last ball of the fifth over when Manoj Katuwal caught Shoukat Mihandoust behind the stumps, leaving the Iranians reeling at 3/5. Mehboob’s fourth wicket was No 4 batsman Gholam Hussein Mehrazar, who was caught at first slip by Paras Khadka.

The fast bowler completed his five-wicket haul when he trapped Hossein Ali Salimian leg before in the 12.2 overs. Salimian, who scored eight runs was the highest scorer for Iran.

This (5/10) was Mehboob’s second five-wicket haul. His best figures of 8/23 came against Maldives in the Emerging Nation’s Cup held in Kathmandu. His first five-wicket haul was against Qatar in the fourth ACC Trophy held in Singapore in 2002.

“Today was my day, I bowled normally, and got the ball in the right place,” said Mehboob. “I had not planned it but once you get in everyone wants to take as many wicket as they can,” he added. After Mehboob’s heroics, it was left arm spinner Shakti Gauchan who wrecked the Iranians. Shakti claimed a wicket per over and returned with a career best figure of 4.4-3-1-5. Shakti started his spell by bowling out Yahya Sheikhi (3) in the 15.2 overs and then trapped Mirza Mustafa Hajy Abul Ghasemy (6) in the 18th over, with the scoreboard reading 7/27.

Other two Iranians returned to the pavilion without scoring any runs. Shakti bowled Mohammed Reza Mehrazar for a duck while Raj Kumar Pradhan took a catch of Kashit Rana, also for a duck, deep square leg. Iran’s innings were over when Sharad Vesawkar took an easy catch at deep mid off to dismiss Zavan Babakhani. Five of the Iranian batsmen were dismissed for a duck each, while the unbeaten man Manzoor Hossain was yet to open his account. Shakti Gauchan echoed Mehboob. “Mehboob started well, claimed five wickets and I got the ball with five wickets remaining,” said Shakti Shakti said he was happy to get career-best figures.

In reply, Paresh Lohani hit six fours in his nine-ball 24 as Nepal overcame the target without loss in 1.3 overs in just 10 minutes. His partner Mehboob even did not get a chance to score as Paresh faced all the nine balls. Match referee Dipu R Chowdhury commented, “I have never seen such a match before, finishing a match in just nine balls seems a record.”

Mehboob Alam was selected for the man of the match award. Referee Chowdhury said, “Although figures favour Shakti Gauchan, the award goes to Mehboob as he dismissed the first five batsmen.” In the quarter-final, Nepal will play against the runner-up of Group A.

Ktm rejected

KUALA LUMPUR: Believe it or not, Kathmandu lost the chance to host the 6th ACC Trophy series because the series’ souvenir magazine says that “communication facilities in Kathmandu are not good”. Come to think of, Kuala Lum-pur has no media centre, and all media persons have to go to various places for the Internet.

Paras on the mend

Parash Luniya is feeling better. The allrounder had caught flu and was confined to his room for two days. He has been taking antibiotics. “I am feeling better today and there is no fever also,” he said. He was able to watch the second match from his window.