Vesawkar ton powers Nepal to victory
KATHMANDU: Nepal remained the only unbeaten team in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V after a brilliant century by Sharad Vesawkar powered the hosts to a 193-run victory over Fiji, but the home team's qualification push was put on hold after the United States of America (USA) lost to Singapore by 99 runs today.
Wednesday's results mean three teams — Nepal, USA and Singapore — are in the race to earn promotion for the Division-IV slated in Italy this August. Nepal are though the favourites to grab one of the two berths available with one match to play on Friday. Only the finalist will qualify while the bottom two teams will be relegated to Division-VI.
The home team lead the standings with eight points from four matches but given that Nepal lose against the USA and Singapore win against Fiji on Friday, the net run-rate comes into play. Both USA and Singapore have six points each. The winless Fiji were relegated to Division-VI.
At the Tribhuvan University Stadium, Nepal scored 267-7 and restricted Fiji for 74-9 in 26.4 overs. Joji Bulabalavu did not bat for Fiji after injuring his leg while fielding in the boundary. For the fourth successive game Nepali openers Dipendra Chaudhary (nine) and Mehboob Alam (10) failed to give the desired start. To make the matter worse, No 3 Shakti Gauchan also lost his wicket without scoring a run to put Nepal in a precarious position at 35-3 by the 10th over.
But Vesawkar (105) and Paras Khadka (75) put on a record 130-run fourth wicket stand to post a mammoth total. Nepal's previous best partnership for all wickets was 126 between Vesawkar and Gyanendra Malla — also for the fourth wicket — during the ACC Trophy against Qatar in 2008.
Vesawkar completed his half century in 78 balls with four fours and a six and reached three figure mark in 130 balls. The batsman struck eight boundaries and two sixes in his 134-ball knock. Skipper Khadka hit eight fours and two sixes in his 91-ball innings. It was the skipper's third half century of the tournament. Khadka scored 69 against Jersey and 71 against Singapore. Tukana Tavo and Jikoi Kida claimed three wickets each for Fiji.
Vesawkar also became only the third player to score an international century for the senior team after Raju Khadka and Shakti Gauchan. Raju scored 105 not out against Bhutan in the Emerging Nations Cup at home in 2003 while Gauchan made an unbeaten 106 against Italy in the ICC WC Qualifying Series-II in Malaysia in 2005.
"I am happy that I was able to contribute to the team. It's like a comeback for me," said Vesawkar of his prolific knock. The century was the first for Vesawkar as he had also scored 106 against Qatar during the ACC U-15 Cup in Sharjah in 2002. He had been unable to make impression for the team for a long time but skipper Khadka said they had confidence over the player. "His knock today justified our confidence."
Fiji were never in contention after losing wickets in regular intervals. Tavo Sorovakatini and Maciu Gauna top scored with 13 runs each. Left-arm spinner Basanta Gauchan was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 4-11 from 5.4 overs. Another left-arm spinner Gauchan also grabbed two (2-7) while left-arm seamer Alam (1-15) and medium pace Binod Das (1-24) bagged one wicket apiece.
Nepal's Sri Lankan coach Roy Luke Dias said that he was happy see one of the best partnerships after a long time. "Sharad (Vesawkar) and Paras (Khadka) were phenomenal," adding the former Sri Lankan Test international. Fiji skipper Josefa Rika said that his team did not deserve to win. "We played poor cricket giving away wickets too easily," said the Fiji skipper adding that their batsmen were unable to play according to the situation.
At the Pulchowk Engineering grounds, Singapore scored 245-9 and dismissed the USA for 146 runs in 37.5 overs. Contributions from top order batsmen backed up by tight bowling helped Singapore defeat a formidable USA team by 99 runs. Narender Reddy (51) scored a half century while, Pramodh Raja (45), Chetan Suryawanshi (34), Buddhika Mendis (27) and Anish Param (24) contributed valuable runs for Singapore. Kevin Darlington took four and Lennox Cush grabbed two wickets for the USA.
Only Steve Massiah (50) scored significantly in the USA run chase as the dangermen Cush (14) and R Marshall (13) were dismissed cheaply. Jackie Manoj-Kumar claimed four while Saad Janjua and Reddy grabbed two wickets each for Singapore.
Meanwhile, Qamar Saeed scored 50 and took six wickets to guide Bahrain to a 27-run win over Jersey.
Held at the Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidhyalaya grounds in Bhaktapur, Bahrain scored 264-7 thanks to lower order batsmen Saeed (50), Azeem ul Haq (48) and Tahir Dar (44). In reply, Jersey were all out for 237 runs in 46.5 overs. Skipper Ryan Driver made 80 and Dean Morrison 49. Saeed returned with the figures of 6-33 in 9.5 overs.
D Chaudhary c Kida b Tavo 9
M Alam c Sorovakatini b Tavo 10
S Gauchan c Kida b Tavo 0
P Khadka c Tavo Cakacaka 75
S Vesawkar not out 105
G Malla lbw b Kida 10
B Regmi b Kida 27
B Das c Tavo b Kida 6
M Chhetri not out 8
Extras: 17 (b1, lb5, w10, nb1)
Total: 267/7 (50 Overs)
FoW: 1-14, 2-18, 3-35, 4-165, 5-200,
Fiji bowling: Lomani 10-0-47-0,
Tavo 10-0-45-3, Kida 9-0-46-3,
Cakacaka 10-0-57-1, Yabaki 6-0-32-0, Rika 5-0-34-0
J Rika c Khadka b Das 11
S Ravoka c B Regmi b Alam 10
I Cakacaka lbw b B Regmi 10
T Sorovakatini lbw b Gauchan 13
T Kida lbw b Gauchan 3
P Rika c Gauchan b B Regmi 1
M Gauna not out 13
S Lomani run out 0
V Yabaki c Gauchan b B Regmi 4
T Tavo c Gauchan b B Regmi 0
J Bulabalavu absent hurt 0
Extras: 9 (b4, lb1, w4)
Total: 74/9 (26.4 Overs)
FoW: 1-17, 2-24, 3-45, 4-48, 5-54, 6-60,
7-60, 8-74, 9-74
Nepal bowling: Alam 6-3-15-1,
Das 6-1-24-1, Khadka 1-1-0-0,
B Regmi 5.4-2-11-4, Gauchan 5-2-7-2,
S Regmi 3-0-12-0