KATHMANDU: Nepal missed out on their first-ever ACC Trophy Elite Cup title going down by 95 runs to Afghanistan in the final match at the Hubara grounds in Kuwait today.
Chasing an achievable 225-run target after a heart breaking 97-run stand between Raees Ahmadzai and Mohabbad Nabi for the seventh wicket, the Nepali batsmen were bowled out for a paltry 129 in 40 overs.
Sharad Vesawkar (35) and Gyanendra Malla (30) were the only Nepali batsmen to resist Afghan bowling attack for a while with 26-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Nepali openers failed to give a desired start as Mahesh Chhetri (4) and Anil Mandal (5) headed back to pavilion with just 18 runs on the board in 5.5 overs. Shakti Gauchan (6) also fell cheaply.
Skipper Paras Khadka, who was still to impress with his bat in the tournament, added 21 runs for the fourth wicket with Gyanendra but failed to continue after he reached the double figures (11) before Nabi trapped him leg before.
Gyanendra and Sharad were slowly building the partnership but the former’s wicket left Nepal stranded at 75-5 in the 24th over. Gyanendra’s 43-ball innings included three fours. Sharad, however, kept his cool but the wickets kept on tumbling at the other end. Basant Regmi (five) and Dipendra Chaudhary (naught) soon departed leaving Nepal tottering at 86-7 by the 27th over.
Binod Das (eight) was the next man to go and it was all over when Sharad
was run out in the 37.5 overs. He struck three fours in his 60-ball innings.
Sanjam Regmi remained unbeaten on 10 when last man Rahul BK was bowled by Nowroz Mangal. Mirwais Ashraf and Mangal picked up two wickets each for Afghanistan.
Earlier, Nepal created an opportunity to dismiss mighty Afghanistan to a low score reducing them to 114-6 by the 30th over.
But the 97-run stand between Ahmadzai and
Nabi not only pulled Afghans out of trouble but also helped them post a challenging target to Nepal. Ahmadzai hit five fours
and a six in his 64-ball 52 before being caught by Dipendra off Paras while Nabi scored 48 off 46 balls including a four and two sixes before being stumped by Mahesh off Basanta.
Opener Karim Sadiq was the other Afghanistan batsman to demolish Nepali bowlers with two fours and two sixes in his patient 105-ball 58. Nepali bowlers got the ideal start when Gyanendra ran Noor Ali out for five and Binod dismissed Muhammad Shahzad for a duck in the sixth over. Binod then claimed Nowroz (14) in the 12th over reducing Afhanistan to 39-3 but Karim added 59 runs with Mirwais Ashraf (24) to bring his side back in the match.
Binod Das was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 3-35, while Paras and Rahul took wickets each.
Karim c Paras b Rahul 58
Noor run out 5
Shahzad c mahesh b Binod 0
Nowroz c Anil b Binod 14
Mirwais c Gyanendra b Rahul 24
Asghar run out 6
Raees c Dipendra b Paras 52
Nabi st Mahesh b Basanta 48
Samiullah b Paras 5
Hamid not out 5
Shahpoor b Binod 2
Extras: 5 (w2, lb3)
Total: 224 (49.6 overs)
FoW: 1-14, 2-14, 3-39, 4-98, 5-110, 6-114, 7-211, 8-217, 9-217
Nepal bowling: Shakti 9-0-44-0,
Binod 8-2-35-3; Paras 8-1-35-2,
Basant 10-1-38-1, Rahul 9-0-40-2,
Mahesh c Shahzad b Ashraf 4
Anil c Stanekzai b Ashraf 5
Shakti c Nabi b Zadran 6
Paras lbw b Nabi 11
Gyanendra run out 30
Sharad run out 35
Basant b Mangal 5
Dipendra b Hassan 0
Binod c Shahzad b Shinwari 8
Sanjam not out 10
Rahul b Mangal 1
Extras: 14 (nb1, w12, lb1)
Total: 129 (40 overs)
FoW: 1-16, 2-18, 3-28, 4-49, 5-75, 6-85,
7-86, 8-102, 9-124
Afghanistan bowling: Shahpoor 7-3-11-1, Mirwais 7-0-31-2, Nabi 7-0-22-1,
Samiullah 10-1-32-1, Hamid 6-0-23-1, Nowroz 3-0-9-2