Z’babwe beat Nepal in nail-biting finish

Colombo, February 7:

Nepal’s hopes of qualifying into the last eight got a severe jolt after they went down to Zimbabwe by just two runs in the second match of the ICC Under-19 World Cup here at Colombo Cricket Club today.

Nepal’s decision to put Zimbabwe into bat first proved right when the bowlers did a great job limiting them to 201 in 49.5 overs. Needed seven runs of the last over, Nepal managed just four runs in their 199/9 in 50 overs. Nepal lost two wickets in the process. On Monday Nepal had restricted England’s powerful batting line-up to 209-9 and they bowled out Zimbabwe for 201.

Yaswant Subedi and Ratan Rauniyar were at the crease in the dramatic last over. Subedi took a run in the first ball and Rauniyar scored two in the second but then lost his wicket in the next ball.

Next man Avay Rana took a sharp single but Subedi could not score in the fifth delivery. Subedi got himself out in his attempt to score three runs in the last ball.

Medium pacer Paras Khadra was superb in taking 4-28, while off-spinner Ratan Rauniyar captured 1-29 in a miserly 10-over spell and opening bowler Amrit Bhattarai was also impressive with 1-27, also from full quota of 10 overs.

At one stage, Nepal reduced Zimbabwe to 90-6 before Ryan Higgins and Glen Querl dug the batting side out of that massive hole with a seventh-wicket stand of 96 runs.

Higgins made 74 from 87 balls with six fours and a six while Querl scored 42 from 63 deliveries including three hits to the ropes.

The only other Zimbabwe batsman to pass the 20-run mark was all-rounder Keegan Meth, who made 23 before Ratan Rauniyar dismissed him.

Skipper Kaniska Chaugain fought a lone battle in Nepal’s run chase scoring a patient 78 off 120 balls, which included seven hits to the fence.

Earlier, Mahesh Chettri ran himself out on duck with 10 runs on board. Skipper Chaugain and Sarad Vesawkar consolidated the innings putting on 83 runs for the second wicket before Higgins trapped Vesawkar leg before. Vesawkar made 38 off 80 balls with four boudaries.

Vice captain Paras Khadka (28) and Chaugain also put on 57-run partnership for the third wicket but after Khadka’s dismissal in the 38.5 overs, Nepal started to lose wickets in regular intervals.

Cremer, who had already played seven Test matches for the Zimbabwe national side, had Khadka stumpped by wicketkeeper.

Yaswant and Basanta Regmi’s 21-run partnership for the seventh wicket had brought some hopes for Nepal but Zimbabwe skipper C Williams, who has played seven one day internationals for Zimbabwe, bowled Regmi in the 46.4 overs.

Chaugain said that Paras Khadka’s wicket was the turning point of the match as no other batsmen succeeded to score runs freely. “I threw my wicket in a attempt to score quick runs”, he added.

Zimbabwe captain Williams said that Nepali bowlers dominated them. “We won the game as our opponent struggled against the spinners”, he said.

With the win, Zimbabwe earned two points and topped the Group D standinmgs with four points, while England is second with two points.

The Group D also includes Ireland, who lost to Zimbabwe in their opening match on Sunday. Only two sides from each of the four groups in the tournament can progress to the round-robin Super League.

Nepal will take on Ireland in its last league match on Thursday.