Nepal were sent out of the ICC U-19 World Cup quarter-finals after a six-wicket defeat from the hands of hosts Bangladesh but not before impressing everyone by their valiant effort.
On a back of a solid 80-ball 72, Nepal reached a respectable total of 211-9 in 50 overs. Spinners tightened the screws in the defense restricting the hosts to 98-4 at one stage but a match-winning partnership between Zakir Hasan and Mehedi Hasan saw Bangladesh reach 215-4 in 48.5 overs.
Nepal had a bright start when Sunil Dhamala trapped Saif Hussain (five) with Bangladesh adding just 17 runs to their total. Pinak Ghosh led the fight with a fighting 32 off 54 before a run out reduced Bangladesh to 63-2 in 19.2 overs.
Sandeep Lamichhane, the hat-trick hero for Nepal, removed dangerous Nazmul Hossain Santo (eight) to bring his side back in the game. Dhamala struck again as the hosts had four of their batsmen back in the pavilion with less than 22 overs remaining in the game and 114 runs to get.
Sandeep was close to get his second when he forced skipper Mehedi to step out but Raju missed the stumping in the 38th over when he was batting on 25. That loss proved costly as Mehedi and Zakir stuck to the crease stitching a crucial partnership giving Bangladesh their first ever spot in any ICC tournament semi-finals.
Zakir top scored with a 77-ball 75 hitting five fours and a six. Mehedi’s 65-ball 55 included three boundaries.
Earlier, Nepal lost opener Sandeep Sunar (seven) and Yogendra Karki (one) with just 19 runs on the board. But Raju and Sunil shared 44 runs for the third wicket to keep Nepal in the game.
Sunil made 25 off 62 with two boundaries before departing as Nepal’s first of the four run outs in the game. Raju added another 51 with Aarif Sheikh (21) but the latter departed leaving the team reeling at 114-4.
Raju, however, continued to play his shots and just as 150 was up in the board, he fell prey to another terrible mix-up with Rajbir Singh (nine) for a run out. Raju hit eight boundaries and a six in his innings.
Prem Tamang (22 not out), Dipendra Airee (22) and Kushal Bhurtel (14) took the team past 200-run mark. Mohammad Shaifuddin picked up two wickets for Bangladesh.