Nepal win three in a row, qualify for World Cup

Kathmandu, November 19:

Bantu Bataju took five wickets as Nepal routed Malaysia by seven wickets in the final of the ACC Under-19 Cup cricket tournament and became the first nation to win the cup for the third time in a row. The win also put Nepal in the U-19 ICC World Cup to be held in Sri Lanka in February next year. Put into bat at TU Stadium, Malaysia were bowled out for a meagre 83 runs in 25.5 overs, and Nepal overcame the target losing three wickets in 25.3 overs in front of the jam-packed stadium. The Nepali bowlers supported their skipper Kanishka Chaugain’s decision to bowl first and put the visitors under pressure from the beginning. Under the pressure of the crowd that flocked at the stadium from the early morning, Bantu claimed first wicket with the fifth ball of the innings when he bowled opener Suhan Kumar Alagratnam for a duck.

The right-arm medium pace bowler reduced Malaysia to 21/2 in the fifth over when he trapped other opener Faris Almas Lee Rosmanizam for 13. Amrit put further pressure on Malaysia when took two wickets in the sixth over. The left-arm pace bowler had Mohammed Ariffin Ramly caught by wicketkeeper Mahesh Chhetry in the first ball, and trapped No 5 Darvin Muralitharan (1) leg before with the fifth ball, leaving the tourists struggling at 26/4.

Bantu made it 31/5 in the seventh over when he bowled No 6 Maxwell Stephen Bala for a duck. The tourists came under intense pressure when Bantu had No 3 Eszrafiq Abdul Azis caught by Ratan Rauniyar at mid-on for 17 runs — highest by the Malaysian batsmen — which included three fours.

Bantu then trapped Mohammed Shukri Abdul Rahim (9) leg before the wicket, before Paras Khadka dismissed Manrick Singh. Raj Shrestha, the only spinner used by Chaugain, claimed the last two wickets to bowl Malaysia for 83 runs in 115 minutes. In reply, Nepal openers Chaugain and Yashwant Subedi put on 23 runs before Yeshwant gave a simple catch to Mohammed Kasman Md Kaderi at mid-on off the bowling of Eszarafiq Abdul Azis in the eighth over. Yashwant hit two fours in his 23-ball 11. Sharad Vesawkar joined his captain Chaugain and the duo added 15 runs for the second wicket before the skipper was bowled by Azis in the 12th over. Chaugain scored 20 off 34 balls hitting three fours. After Gyanendra Malla departed scoring six runs, Vesawkar and Paras Khadka shared an unbroken 35-run partnership to guide Nepal to victory. Paras hit a four and the winning six in his 22-ball 21, while Vesawkar remained unbeaten on 18 off 46 balls.

The win was Nepal’s third in a row over Malaysia in the final. At home in 2001, Binod Das led Nepal to a 7-wicket win, while Shakti Gauchan was responsible for the 30-run victory in the reduced 25-over-a-side final in Karachi. Skipper Kanishka Chaugain — who along with Prem Chaudhary, Yashwant Subedi, and Basanta Regmi was the member of the squad that won fourth edition of the tournament in Karachi in 2001 — credited the success to the crowds and the cricket lovers of the country. “Our bowlers used the conditions very well and they picked up wickets in regular intervals to help the team restrict Malaysia to a small total,” he said.