Nischal fires Nepal into semis

BHAKTAPUR: Allrounder Nischal Pandey led Nepal to their third consecutive win and a place in the semi-finals of the ACC U-16 Elite Cup with an 85-run win over Bahrain here at the Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidhyalaya grounds today.

Electing to bat first, Nepal scored 206-7 before restricting Bahrain to 121-9 in 40 overs. Nepal topped Group B with three wins in as many matches. Friday’s result between Hong Kong and Kuwait will determine the second team to accompany Nepal in the semi-finals from the group.

For the third game in a row, it was Nischal who earned the man-of-the-match award. The left-arm spinner starred with the ball taking 4-6 in their six-wicket win over Hong Kong on Monday before excelling his performance with allround contribution the next day, taking 5-15 and scoring 58 runs in their 101-run victory over Kuwait. He also became the first ever Nepali allrounder to take five wickets and score a half century in an international match. He contunued with the form on Thursday as well — scoring 74 runs and returning with the figures of 5-28 from eight overs.

Sharad Khadka (26) and Nischal laid the platform for a huge total with the first wicket stand of 86 runs in 13.3 overs. The home team lost three wickets in regular succession but Sushan Bhari Shrestha (20), Satish Bhagat (16) and Hari Chaulagain’s quickfire 27 off 20 balls helped their total cross the 200 mark. Nischal hit 12 boundaries in his 62-ball knock. Nikhil Olar and Lalith Lal were pick of the Bahrain bowlers with two scalps each.

Bahrain were on the backfoot from the first over when they lost two batsmen without a single run on the board. Medium pacer Hari Chaulagain trapped Nikhil and Ali Ikram Nadeem leg before wicket with the second and third balls to reduce Bahrain to 0-2. However, Md Faiz Jasnaik (17) and Md Fayyaz (26) consolidated their innings putting on 54 runs for the third wicket.

But their dismissal inside three overs meant Bahrain could only muster 121-9 in 40 overs. Aditya Sarkar also chipped in 24 runs. Apart from Nischal, Bibek Chaudhary took 2-6 while Rajiv Shah and Sharad also picked up one wicket each for the hosts.

“I am extremely happy with my performance in the tournament,” said Nischal. “I was hoping to play better in the tournament but I have excelled my own expectations,” added the allrounder. “I hope to continue with the same display if am picked up for the U-19 tournaments in future.” Nepal’s coach Roy Luke Dias said he was disappointed for not being able to dismiss Bahrain before 40 overs. “After putting on such a big total, I would have liked them to bowl Bahrain completely out,” said Dias. Indicating to Nischal’s performances, Dias said, “It was pretty much a one-man-show so far in the tournament. He is an intelligent cricketer and with some practice and guidance he has the potential to establish himself as a good allrounder,” said Dias.

In Group B matches, Singapore defeated Thailand by 175 runs at the Tribhuvan University Stadium and Malaysia beat Saudi Arabia by six wickets at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds.

Singapore scored 246-5 in 40 overs with contributions from man-of-the-match Vikash Rajgopal (61), Iishan Shekhar (46) and Mohit Kuldarni (44). Thailand were bundled out for 71 runs in 31.4 overs.

Saudi Arabia could only muster 125 runs in 36.2 overs and Malaysia overcame the total losing four wickets in 24.1 overs. Man-of-the-match Syahadat Ramli took four and Nik Nabik three wickets for Malaysia. Ahmed Tajudin struck unbeaten 45 to steer Malaysia home.