Thapa, Mandal lead Nepal to victory

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 22:

Antim named man of the match, Anil declared best batsman.

Antim Thapa took four wickets and scored unbeaten 37 runs as Nepal defeated Afghanistan by six wickets in the final of the ACC Under-15 Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Friday.

Disappointed by the senior team in the World Cup qualifying campaign earlier this year, the cricket fans got some reasons to smile when the youngsters lifted the first trophy of the year.

Electing to bat first after winning the toss at Shaikh Zayed Stadium, Afghanistan were bowled out for 147 runs in 38.3 overs of the 40-over-a-side match, with Antim Thapa being the chief destroyer. Afghanistan started well putting up 49 runs for the opening stand. Opener Sajid Khan scored 24 off 26 before being dismissed by spinner Angel Acharya, while other opener Hashmat Ullah was out for 27 off 46 balls, before being caught by Gyanendra Malla off the bowling of Amrit Pokhrel.

After No 3 batsman Javed Ahmadi, who top-scored with 58 off 79 balls, was dismissed by Antim Thapa, other batsmen failed to launch the fight back as wickets fell in regular intervals and the Afghanis were tumbled out for 147 runs. Except for Zard Ali, who scored 16 off 34 balls, others failed to reach double figure mark. Nepal claimed four wickets at the score off 144, as last six wickets could add just 13 runs. Antim Thapa returned with the best figures of 4-19 off 6.3 overs, while skipper Shashi Keshari took 3-29 and Angel Acharya claimed two wickets. In reply, Nepal played slowly and were 73/2 in 23 overs losing opener Dipen Shrestha (6) and Gyanendra Malla (0). But other batsmen charged in the next 12 overs to overcome the target losing two more wickets. Other opener Anil Mandal played cautiously and hit 10 boundaries in his 100-ball 79, while Antim Thapa remained unbeaten on 37 off 68 balls including four hits to the fence. In the process, the best batsman of the tournament Mandal and man of the match Thapa shared a 105-run partnership. Skipper Shashi Keshari was run out after hitting two fours in his 9-ball innings.