Nepal qualify for semis, defending champions India knocked out, Afghanistan make a strong statement

Nepal U19 cricket team

Nepal have qualified for the semi-finals of the ongoing ACC U19 Youth Asia Cup 2017 after beating the host Malaysia. Defending champions India, who have won the tournament 3 times were knocked out after Bangladesh beat them by 8 wickets which also ensured Nepal’s place in the semi-finals. Similarly, Afghanistan thumped UAE by 134 runs to emerge as one of the favorites to win the tournament.

The day got off to the nerviest of starts, with rain threatening qualification of multiple teams. A win over winless Malaysia and UAE was mandatory for Nepal and Afghanistan respectively to qualify. Rain and wet outfield delayed toss in both these games which led to nervy wait for the fans.

Ultimately the playing conditions improved at Bayeumas Oval, and Nepal was able to face Malaysia in a shortened 24 overs a side match. Nepal won the toss and elected to field first in a match in which they were under pressure to get the better of Malaysia as well as the Net Run Rate.

To the dismay of Nepali fans, Malaysia started well and were positioned 33/0 in 5.3 overs. In a shocking display, Malaysia added 12 runs and lost 10 wickets in the next 60 balls giving Nepal a lowly target of 46 runs. Player of the match Sandeep Lamichhane gave Malaysia no breathing room as he registered a 5-wicket haul in 4.3 overs giving away only 8 runs. Similarly, skipper Dipendra Singh Airee and Shahab Alam picked up 2 wickets each whereas part time bowler Anil Shah picked a wicket.

In reply, Nepal chased down the target with ease in 5.2 overs. Anil Shah was promoted to open the batting to finish things off quickly and he didn’t disappoint. He smashed 3 sixes and a four in an unbeaten innings of 26 runs off 15 balls. The other opener Aasif Sheikh was caught out for a sluggish 4 runs from 14 balls. Skipper Airee came in at number 3 and was in a hurry to finish the match as he smashed his first two balls for six. However, he was caught going for a hat-trick of sixes off Vijay Unni. Anil Shah finished proceedings by smashing 2nd ball of the 6th over to register the victory against the hosts by 8 wickets.

Sandeep Lamichhane was adjudged man of the match for his brilliant 5-wicket haul
Sandeep Lamichhane was adjudged man of the match for his brilliant 5-wicket haul

Since the match was reduced to 24 overs, Nepal’s Net Run Rate didn’t have a significant improvement. As a result, Bangladesh needed to topple India to ensure Nepal’s qualification into the semi-finals.

The match between India and Bangladesh was also hampered by rain and reduced to 32 overs a side. Bangladesh chased down the target of 187 runs set by India in 28 overs with 8 wickets in hand and knocked the defending champions out at the group stages. Bangladesh won all their matches to top Group ‘A’ with 6 points while Nepal finished on 2nd with 4 points.

Elsewhere in Group B, Afghanistan needed a victory over winless UAE to knock Sri Lanka out of the tourney as well as finish top of the group. The groundsmen raced against time and a 20 over match was possible. UAE had to face the brunt of Afghanistan’s frustration over the weather as they went ballistic the entire innings. Afghanistan finished with 224/3 in 20 overs with Darwish Abdul Rasool scoring an unbeaten 37 ball century. He scored 105* off 38 balls with 10 sixes and 7 fours. Opener RahmanullahGubaz scored 59 from 39 balls. In reply, UAE could only muster 90/9 in 20 overs. The 134-run win catapulted Afghanistan to the top of Group B.

Nepal, who had to overcome weather, Malaysia and unfavorable results will face Afghanistan in the semi-final on 17th of November in the Kinrara Academy Oval while Bangladesh will play Pakistan on 16th of November in the other semi-final.

The final will be played on 19th of November in Kinrara Academy Oval.

A proud dreamer "Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" MA Eco and CA Final student.

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