Nepal qualify for WCL Division-IV, just

KATHMANDU: Nepal qualified for the Division-V at the expense of unlucky Singapore despite losing to the United States of America (USA) by five wickets on D/L method in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V match marred by crowd trouble here at the TU Stadium today.

Nepal, the USA and Singapore, who also recorded a big win over Jersey, all finished with eight points from five matches but the Marvan Atapattu's team crashed out after ending up third on net run rate. The home team pipped Singapore by just 0.004 in net run rate. Nepal and the USA will meet again on Saturday in the championship match at the same venue.

Electing to bat first, Nepal scored a modest 162-9 in 50 overs and the USA overcame the revised target of 157 runs losing five wickets in 33.3 overs. Four overs were lost due to the trouble. Former skipper Binod Das made way for Anil Mandal to make up for the failure at the top of the batting order. Dipendra and Mandal opened the batting while Mehboob Alam was dropped down to No 8. It was the first time Das was dropped from the team.

The change made no difference as both the Chaudhary (seven) and Mandal (four), who made his debut for the senior team, were dismissed cheaply leaving the middle order to take up the batting responsibility once again. But the change allowed Alam (38) to contributed significant runs for the team.

The home team were stuttering at 80-6 by the 32nd over after Shakti Gauchan (naught), skipper Paras Khadka (12), Sharad Vesawkar (15) and Mahesh Chhetri (three) also lost their wickets cheaply. But Gyanendra Malla and allrounder Alam put on 62-run seventh wicket stand to help the hosts post a respectable total. Right-arm medium pace Kevin Darlington was the pick of the USA bowlers with 3-23 off 10 overs.

The USA made a composed start chasing the modest target but lost opener Orlando Baker (seven) at 17-1. Needing outright win to qualify, the USA lost four more wickets but put on significant partnerships in between to cruise home comfortably. Man-of-the-match Sushil Nadkarni remained unbeaten on 57 while skipper Steve Massiah scored 42 runs. Nadkarni struck four sixes and three fours in his fluent 59-ball knock while Massiah hit three fours and two sixes in his 58-ball innings. Aditya Thyagarajan also made not out 16 with one six and as many boundary.

USA skipper Massiah said that they exploited the weakness of Nepal to win the match. "We identified their inability to play seamers and explioted it quite nicely," said Massiah. "They were pretty much the No 1 team coming to this game but it would have more disappointing for us not to have advanced qualified after coming through with the experience of playing in the Twenty20 World Cup qualifers," he added.

Nepal skipper Khadka was disappointed after the loss. "We could not take wickets in right time," said Khadka adding that losing Alam and Malla in the 45th over was the turning point. "All credits to them (USA), they batted exceptinally well."

Nepal coach Roy Luke Dias termed the qualification as the biggest achievement. About the game, Roy said, "We were good in all three departments -- batting, bowling and fielding -- in the last four matches. It's just that we could not put enough runs on the board today," said Dias. Of the championship match, Dias said that he would decide on Chaudhary after consulting with skipper Paras (Khadka). Dias also indicated bringing in either Das or Amrit Bhattarai tomorrow. "Tomorrow's match will be played on a new turf, so we will decide on the bowling option after assesing the wicket," he said. "They (USA) bowled really well today, so we will have to survive the first spell tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Singapore defeated Jersey by seven wickets at the BSAM grounds. Jersey were all out for 192 runs in 48.1 overs thanks to Matt Hague (52), Samuel Haye (38), Peter Gough (32) and Ryan Driver (31). Knowing net run rate would come in handy in their qualification bid, Singapore battled explosively to reply with 195-3 in just 26 overs. Opener Buddika Mendis scored unbeaten 85 off 77 with nine fours and four sixes. Chetan Suryawanshi struck a fiery 22-ball 40 with three sixes and as many fours while Munish Arora remaimed not out on 45 off 43 balls.

Also, Bahrain remarkably survived the relegation battle at the expense of Jersey after their 95-run win over already relegated Fiji at the Pulchowk Engineering grounds. Bahrain scored 275-9 with contributions from No 9 batsman Tahir Dar (54), Azeem ul Haq (41), Adil Hanif (37) and Imran Sajjad (30). Fiji were all out for 181 runs in 39.3 overs. Sakaraia Lomani top struck 40 and Iniasi Cakacaka 32. Man-of-the-match Dar claimed 4-19 for Bahrain.

Crowd disturbance mars outcome

KATHMANDU: The crowd trouble during the Nepal vs the USA match of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V at the TU Stadium probably made a huge difference to the overall outcome of the tournament. The USA were chasing 163-run target set by Nepal when the unruly crowd pelted stones and hurled water bottles to halt the game.

When the game resumed after half-an-hour, the USA got a revised target of 157 runs from 46 overs, which they acquired in 33.3 overs. The result despite Singapore's emphatic seven-wicket win over Jersey saw the home team qualify for the Division-IV as runners up to the USA. Nepal were just 0.004 ahead of Singapore in net run rate. If crowd trouble had not reduced the target, Nepal would have probably missed out on the promotion. Also, if USA had won two balls earlier than they did, Singapore would have advanced to the final.