Nepal take on Malaysia in semis

Kuala Lumpur, August 25:

Gyanendra Malla scored an unbeaten half century to guide Nepal to a eight-wicker win over Oman and a place in the semi-finals of the ACC U-19 Elite Cup cricket tournament here at the Club Aman in Kuala Lumpur today.

Oman made 90 runs in 47.3 overs after Nepali captain Paras Khadka put them to bat first. Nepal chased the total losing two wickets in 22.5 overs. Nepal advanced as Group A winner with seven points while The United Arab Emirates (UAE), who beat Singapore by four wickets today, advanced as runner up with six points.

Abhaya Rana (2-24) replaced Chandra Sawad for the match and made a good impression almost immediately as he had openers Gaurav Honavar (0) and Shrey Wilson (1) caught behind in his fourth and sixth overs respectively. Two very similar deliveries saw both batsmen completely miss-time their shots to provide a thick edge and an easy catch to wicketkeeper Mahesh Chettri, who took four catches and had two stumpings.

Amrit Bhattarai (2-13), bowling from the other end, clipped the top of the stumps in two consecutive balls, dismissing Jatinder Singh (2) and Abu Saud Haroon (0), putting Oman in a very uncomfortable position at 19-4 in nine overs.

Nepal’s first change bowlers maintained the pressure on Suneet Fernandes (7) and Vivek Venkataram (39). After scoring 32 against UAE on Friday, Nepal were aware of the damage Venkataram could cause and immediately introduced the spinners to break the partnership.

The plan worked as Fernandes was trapped leg before wicket and an over later, Nikhil Xavier (0) gifted a catch to Raj Shrestha (2-13) at silly mid-off. Shrestha got the vital wicket of Venkataram in the 27th over and with him gone Shah Taha (17) and Haitham Doshambeh (6) batted 13 overs while scoring just 19 runs frustrating the Nepalese bowlers. Rahul BK also bagged two wickets while Sagar Khadka and skipper Parash took one each.

Nepal were under no real pressure but in the fourth over Rom Shrestha (eight) threw away his wicket after he lobbed the ball to Vivek Venkataram. But Mahesh Chettri (24) and Gyanendra Malla (58 not out) went on to post a 70-run second wicket partnership. Malla closed off the match in the 23rd over with a boundary. Malla hit six fours and a six in his 63-ball innings.

Nepal’s Sri Lankan coach, Roy Dias said that the performance of his team was up to their standards, but only in the semi-finals onwards will the team face their toughest challenge. For his classy performance with the bat, Gyanendra Malla won the man of the match award.

Nepal will take on Group ‘B’ runner up Malaysia at the Gayuemas Oval and UAE will meet Group B winner Afghanistan at the Kinrara Oval in semi-finals on Monday.