Nepal cancelled out some nervy moments to defeat Hong Kong five wickets and win the ACC U-19 Eastern Region tournament to secure a berth in November’s ACC U-19 Asia Cup.
On a back of three wickets apiece from leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and Shahab Alam, Nepal bundled out for just 76 in 32.1 overs. Nepal lost five wickets in the process but Pranit Thapa Magar settled the nerves smashing 16 runs in a single over as they reached 79-5 in 14.4 overs.
The tournament sent only the winners into the Asia Cup, also to be hosted by Malaysia and Nepal will now rub shoulders against Asian Test playing nations like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Another champion from Western Region will also make it to the tournament.
Nepal lost opener Aasif Sheikh (one) in the third over before Sandeep Sunar and Anil Sah added 28 runs for the second wicket. Karandeep Singh dismissed both set batsmen in a single over as Nepal were reduced to 39-3 in seven overs.
Sandeep scored 19 from 21 with four boundaries and Anil made 16 off 13 with three hits to the fence. Dipendra Singh Airee and Pranit then notched up 24-run partnership for the fifth wicket but there was an anti-climax when Jhathavedh SS removed the Nepali captain and new man Sumit Maharjan (duck) in a single over.
Dipendra top scored in the match with 22 from 26 balls with four boundaries. Hong Kong eyed an upset after reducing Nepal to 63-5 in the 14th over. But Pranit ended the Hong Kong excitement smashing Hamid Khan for two sixes and a four in four delivers to take Nepal across the finish line. Pranit was unbeaten on 19 from 18 balls. Karandeep took 3-35 from seven overs for Hong Kong.
Earlier, Anil struck in the first over for Nepal removing opener Raag Kapur for a duck as Hong Kong continued to play under pressure. Another opener Harpreet Singh and Jhathavedh SS combined for a 34-run partnership for the second wicket to halt the proceedings but a run out of the latter ended the stand.
Jhathavedh made 16 from 32 balls with two boundaries. Shahab Alam then trapped Harpreet leg before to put Hong Kong in backfoot, the opener top scoring in their innings with 45-ball 20 that included two hits to the fence.
Waqas Khan was the next best scorer for Hong Kong making a 38-ball 15 before Sandeep bowled him. Nepal then continued to pile pressure under Hong Kong who finally succumbed in the 33rd over.
Sandeep was the pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 3-8 from economical 6.1 overs and Shahab had the figures of 3-15 from 7 overs. Skipper Dipendra also had a scalp for Nepal.
Sandeep ended up as tournament’s leading wicket taker with 16 victims to his name.
Nepal U19 VS Hong Kong U19
U19 Asia Cup Qualifiers, Eastern Region
Toss – Nepal U19 won the toss and elected to field
Hong Kong U19 – 76 for 10 in 32.1 overs
Harpreet Singh 20
runs in 45 balls
Sandeep Lamichhane 6.1-1-8-3
Shahab Alam 7-0-15-3
Dipendra Singh Airee 5-1-6-1
Anil Kumar Sah 10-0-21-1
Nepal U19 – 79 for 5 in 14.4 overs
Dipendra Singh AIee 22
runs in 26 balls
Pranit Thapa Magar 19
runs in 18 balls
Nepal U19 won the match by 5 wickets