Kathmandu, September 13
Nepal thrashed Bhutan by nine wickets and advanced to the semi-finals of the ACC U-19 Eastern Regional Tournament at the Club Aman in Kinrara Oval, Malaysia today.
Nepal made it to the last four with a match in hand. They had defeated Thailand by 255 runs in their opening match of the Group A on Monday. Nepal accumulated four points from two consecutive victories and are at the top of the group, while Singapore, who also accumulated four points after beating Bhutan and Thailand, are second on inferior run rate.
The match between Nepal and Singapore slated for Thursday will decide the group winners. Thailand and Bhutan, who are yet to open their accounts, have been knocked out of the tournament. Similarly, hosts Malaysia and Hong Kong entered the semi-finals from Group B with two victories, while Myanmar and China were eliminated.
In the day’s match, Bhutan were bowled out for a paltry 50 runs in 28 overs after opting to bat first. Nepal raced to victory in 8.3 overs with the loss of one wicket. Skipper Dipendra Singh Airee shone with the ball as he completed five-wicket haul to help Nepal record second victory in a row. Nepali bowlers stole the show as they put pressure from the beginning. Nandan Yadav made the early breakthrough as he trapped Bhutan’s opener Jeewan Ghalley (one) in the second ball of the third over with only four runs on the board.
As Bhutan’s batsmen were struggling to put runs on the board, Airee struck twice in the ninth over to reduce them to 15-3. Airee trapped Ngawang Thinley (five) leg before wicket in the first ball and bowled Pem Chedup for a duck in the third ball of the same over.
However, Nepal had to wait almost 10 overs for the fourth wicket. Bhutan’s Ugyen Dorji (13 off 43) and skipper Tashi Phuntsho, who top scored with 16 of 65 balls, added 14 runs from 59 balls. Dorji and Phuntsho hit a boundary each. Airee took a return catch to dismiss Dorji in the second ball of the 19th over to break the partnership and two balls later he had Tshering Penjor caught by Pranit Thapa Magar for a duck. Skipper Airee completed his five-wicket haul in the last ball of the 21st over by claiming the wicket of Gakul Kumar Ghalley (four).
Sandeep Lamichhane, who had claimed seven wickets against Thailand, claimed all four remaining wickets, including skipper Phuntosho in the last ball of the 28th over. Lamichhane also dismissed Dorji Thinley (one), Tshring Norbu (one) and Yowon Pradhan (duck). Currently, Lamichhane is the highest wicket taker with 11 wickets. Harpreet Singh of Hong Kong and Syed Aziz Syed Mubarak have claimed seven wickets each.
Man-of-the-match, Airee returned with 5-25 from eight overs and Lamichhane took 4-7 from seven overs. Nandan Yadav picked up 1-3 from three overs.
In reply, Nepal reached the target with ease after openers Asif Sheikh and Sandeep Sunar added 39 runs inside seven overs. Sunar was caught by Dorji Thinley off Tshering Penjor in the fifth ball of the seventh over for 21 off 26 balls. Sheikh, who remained unbeaten on 23 off 21 balls, and Sunar cracked three boundaries each. Anil Kumar Sah, who scored 91 runs against Thailand, remained not out on four off five balls that included a four.
Nepali team’s head coach Binod Das lauded his bowlers for the brilliant show. “It is difficult to bowl the opponents out inside eight or 10 overs. And the best part is we played our natural game,” said Das. He was a little bit worried as his bowlers conceded extra runs. “We can work on that,” added Das. Das also said that playing against Singapore would not be a tough task for his side. “I do not think Singapore are capable of beating us. We’ll play our natural game and show our potential. It would not be difficult for us to beat them if we play up to our level.”
Airee said the first mission of advancing the semi-finals was completed. “We played as per the team’s plan and we earned the berth in the semi-finals. We will try to win our next matches as well,” added Airee.
A version of this article appears in print on September 14, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.
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Source: The Himalayan Times