Nepal earn sensational victory

Kathmandu, July 21

Nepali U-19 cricket team recorded third victory but their batting woes continued in the fourth consecutive match of the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers for Asia Region in Singapore today.

Nepal, who faced a humiliating 141-run defeat at the hands of Afghanistan yesterday after they faltered to their lowest-ever score in U-19 level, beat hosts Singapore by 22 runs at the Indian Association Ground today.

Opting to bat first, Nepal were bowled out for 168 runs in 46.5 overs before Singapore were packed for 146 runs in 46.5 overs. This is Nepal’s second consecutive victory over Singapore after their four-wicket win in the first leg match of the double round robin format event. A total of four teams, also including Malaysia, are taking part in the event which will send the top side to next year’s ICC U-19 World Cup to be hosted by New Zealand.

Nepal decided to bat for the first time after skipper Sandeep Lamichhane won the toss for the fourth straight time, Nepal made a disastrous start with opener Anil Kumar Sah (seven) being caught by Brigu Iyer off Aryaman Sunil in the fourth ball of the third over with just 20 runs on the board.

Like previous matches, Nepali batsmen struggled to score runs and they were reduced to 39-3. Pranit Thapa Magar (eight) lost his wicket to Ansh Bhargava in the seventh over and Aasif Sheikh (three) was bowled by Aahan Gopinath Achar in the first ball of the 12th over.

Dipendra Singh Airee and Sandeep Sunar shared 39-run stand for the fourth wicket to revive the innings. After Sunar, who scored 26 off 56 balls hitting two boundaries and a six, returned to the pavilion, Airee added another 41 runs for the fifth wicket with Rohit Kumar Paudel (15 off 31) to keep the momentum going. Airee, who cracked two each fours and sixes, top scored for Nepal with 54 off 83 balls. Prakash KC contributed 23 off 24 balls with the help of three boundaries.

Singapore’s Bikram Bir Biswaraya claimed 3-29, while Aryaman Sunil (2-23) and Aahan Gopinath Achar (2-31) shared four wickets between them. Ansh Bhargave and Rohan Rangarajan took one wicket each.

In reply, Singapore made a bright start but Nepali bowlers rallied to snatch the victory after the hosts lost last four wickets for a meagre seven runs. Opener Rohan Rangarajan — who scored 23 off 31 balls hitting three boundaries and a six — and Sean Agarwal, who added 21 off 59 with the help of three boundaries, added 40 runs before Nepal skipper Lamichhane made the breakthrough. Lamichhane, who took five-wicket hauls in the first two matches, took a return catch to dismiss Rangarajan.

Agarwal then added 36 runs for the second wicket with Sidhant, who scored 25 off 58 balls before Kishore Mahato broke the stand in the 23rd over trapping the former leg before the wicket to reduce the hosts to 76-2. It soon became 95-5 when Lamichhane then trapped Siddhant leg before wicket in the 28th over and Pawan Sarraf had Singapore skipper Janak Prakash (nine) caught by Airee in the 33rd over.

However, Hanshul Deep Singhania (32) and Yuvraj Singh (19) shared a 45-run stand for the sixth wicket as the hosts sensed victory. Lamichhane brought Nepal back into the game when he trapped Singhania leg before wicket in the first ball of the 44th over with 139 runs on the board and that triggered a collapse with the hosts losing remaining four wickets for just seven runs.

Lamichhane was pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 4-22, while Kishore Mahato (2-23) and Pawan Sarraf (2-28) shared four wickets between them. Dipendra Singh Airee claimed a wicket for his side. Nepal will now face Malaysia on July 24.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan thrashed Malaysia by 10 wickets to win their fourth straight match. Batting first, Malaysia were bowled out for 58 runs in 22.2 overs before Afghanistan raced to 62 without loss in just 5.4 overs.