Penang, August 5:

Nepal lost to Afghanistan by 49 runs in the inaugural-day match of the ACC U-17 Asia Cup Cricket Tournament today. Electing to bat, Afgha-nistan scored 176/8 off 45 overs. At one stage, Afgha-nistan were reeling at 35/5. In reply, Nepal failed to overcome the target and were packed off for 127 runs in 44.4 overs. Except for skipper Gyanendra Malla and Nirmal Simangauda, others could not perform to the expectations. Batting at number 4, Malla gave some hope to the Nepali side with some fine strokes. He scored 48 runs off 85 deliveries including seven hits to the ropes. He also shared an important 52-run partnership with Simangauda, who scored 25 off 67 balls. Nepal’s run chase was terrible as five batsmen were sent off cheaply. Influencial and experienced wicketkeeper and batsman Deepen Shrestha was out with meagre five runs, while Rajan Khadgi scored 17 and Sunam Gautam was out for a duck and others failed to reach the double figure mark. “We were poor at fielding but the luck did not favour us in batting too,” said dejected coach Roy Luke Dias. He also slammed the selectors for giving a weak team to play such an important tournament. “It was the result of the poor selection process, which did not pay attention to the batting line,” said furious Dias.

“No adequate training and a whole bunch of inexperienced players, it would be foolish to expect anything good from it,” exclaimed one of the players. Nepal’s bowling aspect was satisfactory. They sent seven Afghan players to the pavilion just for 50 runs. But Asghar Hussain Hotak and Aimal Wafa shared a 120-run partnership and fought back to take their team to a respectable total. Asghar remained unbeaten at 84 off 25 balls hitting five fours and four sixes while Aimal made 32. Izatullah Khan remained unbeaten on 21 and then claimed five wickets to earn the man of the match award. For Nepal, Prabesh Shrestha claimed three wickets whereas Iraj Shrestha and Nirmal Simangaida pocketed two eickets each. “Brunei is a strong team. If we don’t improve on the batting line, nothing can be said about that match too,” said the Sri Lankan coach. Assistant coach Pradeep Raj Pandey admitted that the Nepali boys were naive in front of their opponent and said: “We have to make it a point to correct the mistakes we made today.”

Iraj injured

PENANG: Nepal’s fast bowler Iraj Shrestha has hurt his thumb severely while playing their first match against Afghanistan today. He broke his thumb on an attempt to stop a powerful shot made by an Afghani batsman. X-Ray reports confirmed that Shrestha’s left thumb was broken. Manager Kiran Rana said that Shrestha will not be able to play the second match against Brunei on Saturday. On Thursday, another batsman Sujin Adhikari was hurt while practicing. The irony is that both the injured players are staying at Room No 13 at Sheraton Hotel in Penang. — HNS