Nepal go down to Afghanistan

Kathmandu, November 17

Nepal faced a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Afghanistan in the semi-final match of the ACC U-19 Youth Asia Cup at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur today.

Put into bat first, Nepal were bowled out for a paltry 103 runs in 28 overs before Afghanistan raced to 108-3 in 20.3 overs. Afghanistan advanced to the maiden final after being knocked out from semi-finals in previous three editions, while Nepal had made it to the last four for the first time at the expense of India.

Nepal’s loss against Afghanistan was fifth in a row. Earlier, Afghanistan had defeated Nepal by five wickets in the ACC U-19 Premier in 2014 and by 10 wickets in the next edition of the competition in 2015. Similarly, Nepal suffered a 141-run defeat

and went down by 96 runs in the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers for Asia Region in July. Nepal have not been able to defeat Afghanistan since their 42-run victory in the Youth World Cup Qualifiers in 2011.

Afghanistan will play against Pakistan in Sunday’s final match. Pakistan made it to final beating Bangladesh by two runs on Thursday.

In the day’s match, Nepal made a disastrous start with the bat as opener Asif Sheikh was trapped leg before the wicket for a duck by Mujeeb Ur Rahaman in the second over, while Jitendra Singh (one) gave a return catch to the same bowler in the fourth over with only nine runs on the board.

Anil Kumar Sah was the only Nepali batsman to reach double figures, scoring 50 off 57 balls hitting seven boundaries and a six. He tried to revive the innings with

a 23-run partnership for the third wicket with skipper Dipendra Singh Airee (six) and added another 30 runs for the fifth wicket with Bhim Sharki (six).

Sah stood firm at one end but he did not get support from his teammates as Nepal lost last five wickets for just 32 runs. Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the chief destroyer taking 6-28, while Qais Ahmad Kamawal took 2-23.

In reply, Afghanistan achieved the target comfortably after opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored a quick fire 71 off just 65 balls with the help of nine boundaries and two sixes. Ikram Ali Khil scored 18 off 35, while Darwish Abdul Rassol hit two boundaries in his six-ball 12 not out.

Kamal Singh Airee had Ibrahim Zadran (three) caught by Asif Sheikh in the first ball of the sixth over to take Afghanistan’s first wicket with 24 runs on the board. However, Gurbaz shared a 71-run partnership with Khil for the second wicket before Pawan Sarraf had the latter caught by Anil Kumar Sah in the 18.2 overs. Sandeep Lamichhane sent Gurbaz to the pavilion in the 19.1 overs but it was too late for Nepal to stage a comeback.

Nepali team head coach Binod Das said his side lost the important battle after failing to execute team’s plans. “We failed to implement our plans today and everything went from bad

to worse. Our batsmen, except for Anil Kuma Sah, failed to put up a good show. And with such a low score, we had very less chance to defend,” said Das.

However, Das added that his side could take lots of positive from the tournament. “Overall, the tournament had a lot of positives to take from. Reaching to the semi-finals for the first time is an achievement we can be proud of. We beat India on our way and gave tough challenge to Bangladesh,” he added. “We had good performances during the tournament and I am happy that we got here. For the days to come, we will do best from our side and the governing body, when formed, will have its roles too,” said Das.