Kuala Lumpur, November 26:
Nepal qualified for the final of the ACC Premier League when they earned 16.5 points from the drawn match against Malaysia at the Kinrara Oval today.
Nepal, who topped the five-nation league before the match, accumulated a total of 95.5 points from four matches â€” two wins, one draw and a loss. Singapore (59), Malaysia (57.5) and Hong Kong (44.5) have played three matches each, while the UAE (30.5) have played just one match.
The day began with Nepal batting with a comfortable 101-run lead over Malaysia when the pace and swing of Malaysiaâ€™s Navaratnam deceived Paresh Lohani (27) as he fished for the ball only to be caught behind.
After their first innings batting collapse, Nepal were determined to regain their past form. Sharad Vesawkar (23) and Gyanendra Malla (27) put on a masterful 54-run partnership before Malla was dismissed as Nepal went for lunch with at 132-3.
A quick first over wicket after lunch saw Paras Khadka (9) out and it seemed Nepalâ€™s top order was starting to fail them yet again. None of the batsmen were able to hold the fort alongside Shakti Gauchan (47) who certainly made his presence felt over a 25-over period. Gauchan was dismissed after Mehboob Alam (8), both of whom fell to great reflex catches in the slips by Esrafiq Aziz.
After what was normality, the rain interrupting play, for over an hour and a half, Nepal batted eight overs to declare at 180-6 leaving Malaysia a target of 245 in 31 overs.
A difficult task was only made harder when Suhan Kumar (4) was trapped in front of the stumps in the very first over. Malaysia came close to losing a second wicket in only the third over when Rakesh Madhavan (9) was dropped but there was no such luck for Malaysia when Shakti Gauchan nearly split the stumps with his throw to have Madhavan run out.
Nepal maintained their attacking style and soon sensed victory when they had Malaysia dented at 90-7 after 19 overs. Two quick wickets by Paras Khadka had Malaysia on
the edge but they held on till the 26th over when the match was called off on account of bad light.
â€œI cannot have asked for more from the players. I am very happy with their performance as we made a remarkable comeback after our lackluster batting performance in the first innings,â€™â€™ said Nepal coach Roy Luke Dias.