Nepal, Spore to battle for U-16 supremacy

KATHMANDU: Nepal and Singapore set the ACC U-16 Elite Cup title clash after winning their respective semi-final matches today.

Nepal saw off Malaysia by 32 runs at the Tribhuvan University Stadium while Singapore dispatched Hong Kong by 133 runs at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds.

Electing to bat, the home team was bowled out for 162 runs in the last ball of their 40 overs quota before restricting Malaysia to 130 in 38.1 overs. For the first time in the tournament, the batting abilities of the home team were put to the test as they found runs hard to come by. Openers Sharad Khadka (23) and star performer of the three league matches Nischal Pandey (14) made a slow start making just 33 runs in 10 overs. Nischal, who scored back-to-back half centuries against Kuwait and Bahrain, was caught at slips by Syahadat Ramli off Md Fetri and Sharad was caught at silly point by Tharmaraj Mohan off Syahadat to reduce Nepal to 45-2 by the 16th over.

But man-of-the-match Dipendra Chand consolidated the Nepali innings with a patient knock of 44. Chand put on 23 runs for fourth wicket with Satish Bhagat (seven) and 43 runs for fifth-wicket partnership with Sanam Shrestha (24) to push the total close to 150 runs. Syahadat was the pick of the Malaysian bowlers with 3-25 while Md Fetri took two wickets.

In reply, Malaysia made a slow but steady run chase before Nischal made the break through at 27-1, bowling Razlan Zalati for eight in the 8.2 overs. Left-arm spinner Bibek Chaudhary then dismissed Syahadat (seven) and Amerul Hussin (20) to reduce Malaysia to 44-3 by the 24th over. Ahmad Tajudin (21), Tharmaraj (17), Azwan Idris (16) got the starts but failed to build their innings against the tight Nepali bowling. Left-arm spinner Rajeev Shah polished off the Malaysian tails with two wickets in the 37th and one

in the 39th over. Bibek was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 4-23 while Devendra Somare took 3-19.

“It’s great to come to the final,” said Nepal’s Sri Lankan coach Roy Luke Dias. “The team could not be termed as great considering their lack of match exposures and experience. So all credits to the team for making it this far,” added Dias. Dias also raised a concern over the misfiring skipper Switchan Shah. “Basically only three batsmen have so far contributed with the bat and I would like him (Switchan) to come good against Singapore,” said Dias adding that the skipper was included basically as a batsman. Dias said that they have to improve a lot in batting and fielding against Singapore. “They are one of the strongest sides and we have to do really well against them.”

At the Pulchowk grounds, Singapore made 230-9 and dismissed Hong Kong for 97 runs in 30.1 overs. Man-of-the-match Vikas Rajgopal laid the foundation for a big total with a 92-ball 68 for Singapore. Mohit Kulkarni (39) and Keshav Seshadri (37) also contributed valuable runs to the total.

Amandeep Singh took 3-49 for Hong Kong. Hong Kong were on the back foot early on after losing two wickets at 14-2.

A third-wicket stand of 48 runs between Kinchit Shah (23) and Miten Khatri (15) revived some hopes but their dismissal by the 20th over (69-4) meant Hong Kong were bowled out in the 31st over.

Shivam Ahuja took three while Iishaan Shekhar and Saisrikar Pogaru bagged two wickets apiece for Singapore.

Meanwhile, Kuwait won the seventh-place playoff with a 69-run victory over Thailand thanks to Nasir Rashid, who scored an unbeaten half century (63) and took six wickets, at the Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidhyalaya grounds.

Kuwait posted 159-7 and packed Thailand for 90 runs in 21.4 overs.