Rahul bowls Nepal to maiden trophy

KATHMANDU: A fiery seven-wicket haul by left-arm spinner Rahul Kumar BK helped Nepal clinch the first ever championship trophy at the senior level here at the Tribhuvan University Stadium today.

The home team defeated the United States of America (USA) by five wickets in the

Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V final match today. Nepal made 175-5 in 46.5 overs replying to the USA’s total of 172 all out in 47.2. The home team avenged their

Friday’s defeat against the same opponent which

almost put an end to their promotion to Division-IV. Both Nepal and the USA were promoted after Friday’s last round matches at the expense of Singapore. Singapore lost out on promotion as the hosts pipped them narrowly by net run rate after all three teams ended up with equal eight points.

Nepal’s victory was set up by Rahul’s excellent second spell that yielded all seven wickets for the spinner. Right-arm medium pacer Binod Das, back in the sqaud after being dropped against the same side on Friday, gave Nepal the breakthrough, dismissing Lennox Cush (10) in the fourth over. But Orlando Baker (49) and skipper Steve Massiah put on 81 run second wicket stand to consolidate their innings. The USA were looking set for a huge total at 141-2 by the 35.5 overs after Baker was run out by a sharp throw from Gyanendra Malla.

But a remarkable collapse saw the USA restrict for 172 runs, thanks to left-arm off-spinner Rahul. Off-spinner Sanjam Regmi triggered the USA collapse when he had Sushil Nadkarni (15) caught behind by wicketkeeper Mahesh Chhetry in the last ball of the 36th over. It was all Rahul there after as the left-arm spinner claimed all remaining seven USA wickets.

Skipper Paras Khadka brought Rahul for his second spell in the 38th and the bowler single-handedly bowled out the rest of the USA batsmen.

He started his second spell

with a maiden over and returned to take two wickets

in 40th over. He had dangerman Massiah (55) caught at slips

by Shakti Gauchan in the second ball of the over before dismissing Aditya Thyagarajan (four) two balls later.

In his next over — 42nd — Rahul took two more wickets of Carl Wright (one) and Rashard Marshall (four) in the first and the last ball of the over. Birthday boy Mehboob Alam took a spectacular catch at the long off boundary to get rid of Wright. Rahul ended USA’s hopes of posing a big total after taking one wicket each in his next three overs. He got rid of Timroy Allen (two) thanks to a yet another catch by Alam

at the long off boundary and sought assistance from wicketkeeper Mahesh Chetri to dismiss Usman Shuja (three). Rahul finished with an enviable figures of 7-15 in 8.2 overs when he had Imran Awan caught by Gauchan in the slips.

Makeshift openers Mahesh Chhetri (28) and Anil Mandal (37) gave the home team a dream start to ease the

run chase. But despite the solid 85-run opening stand, the home team lost five wickets before Malla (28 not out) and Alam (17 not out) guided

the team safely home. Alam struck a six and a four in the 47th over as the winning runs to ignite a wild celebration.

The USA skipper Steve Massiah said that losing eight wickets for just 31 runs during their innings made a huge difference. “Had only we been able to score 200/215, the match would have probably been tight. But they bowled exceptionally well and are the deserving winners,” added Massiah.

Nepal skipper Khadka also praised Rahul for his excellent bowling. “We deserved this as we played really well throughout the tournament except for Friday. I am happy that we finally got what we were looking for the last eight years,” said Khadka referring to their agonising loss in the final of the 2002 ACC Trophy. Nepal, led by Raju Khadka, lost the championship match by six wickets against the United Arab Emirates. “I think we came back strongly after Friday’s loss,” said Dias. “Rahul bowled a magical spell and we got a sound opening to ease the run chase,” said Dias also praising a good overall performance.

Meanwhile, Bahrain beat

Singapore by three wickets in the third place playoff at

the Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidhyalaya grounds and Jersey defeated Fiji by five wickets in the fifth place playoff at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds today.