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Paras the difference as Nepali in brink

KATHMANDU:-Skipper Paras Khadka is accustomed to holding the fort all alone and he had to do it once again. Paras once again led from the front with an explosive innings as Nepal sniffed a place in the semi-finals of the ACC Twenty20 Cup defeating Malaysia by 19 runs.

In a must-win match at a full house TU Stadium, Paras stroked 87 off just 54 balls lifting Nepal to a commanding 163-8. Malaysia‚ in reply‚ were restricted to 144-9 after a late onslaught from Shafiq Sharif. With Hong Kong already making through as Group ‘A’ winners following their 39-run victory over Singapore earlier in the day‚ Nepal are in a pole position to enter the last four as runners-up.  Nepal have four points from three matches and a victory over winless Singapore on Sunday will take the hosts into the semi-finals. If Singapore defeat Nepal and Malaysia – who have two points from three matches – beat Maldives in their final match on Sunday‚ run rate will come into play.

Opener Pradeep Airee (naught) and Gyanendra Malla (two) were out early before Paras added 48 runs for the second wicket with Subash Khakurel. Opener Subash made 25 off 23 with two boundaries and a six. After Nepal lost Subash, Paras continued showing aggression and added another 49 with Binod Bhandari taking Nepal across triple figures. The skipper brought his half century in just 34 balls. 

Binod lost his wicket to Shahrulnizam Yusof after hitting the bowler for a four and a six. Binod made 21 off 16 with two boundaries and one six. With other batsmen failing to play big shots‚ Paras ensured Nepal pile a challenging total before losing his wicket to Hassan Ghulam after hitting the tall fast bowler for a six. 

Paras hit 11 boundaries and three sixes to end up being the second highest scorer for Nepal in Twenty20 after Mehboob Alam. The left handed all rounder Mehboob had scored a 41-ball 88 against Saudi Arabia in the 2011 ACC Twenty20 Cup held in Kathmandu. It was Paras’ third Twenty20 half century. Malaysian openers Ullah Khan and Faizal Abu Hasan gave a real scare to Nepal hitting strike bowler Chandra Saud – playing his first match of the tournament – for 15 runs. Paras introduced spinner Basanta Regmi in the second over and the left arm spinner provided the breakthrough dislodging the bails of Faizal (six). Prithu Baskota – also playing his first match –picked up crucial wickets of Ullah (33) and Suahrill Fetri (six) to reduce Malaysia to 49-3 in 5.2 overs.  Two run outs from Paras and a wicket each from Sanjam Regmi and Shakti Gauchan left Malaysia tottering at 101-7 in 15.5 overs. Shafiq produced a fighting half century to keep Malaysia in the match but Nepal hanged on for the victory. Shafiq remained unbeaten on a 38-ball 53 with two sixes and four boundaries. Prithu (2-25) and Sanjam (2-28) shared four wickets between them‚ while Chandra‚ Basant and Shakti getting one scalp apiece.  Nepal’s coach Pubudu Dassanayake said all plans worked for his side. “I am satisfied. I was waiting for this outcome because we played according to plans. It was good game for the fans as well because Malaysia didn’t give up‚” said Dassanaayake adding Paras’ presence was a big boost for the team. Malaysia coach Roy Luke Dias said Paras was the difference. “He is one of the best captains. The brilliant innings from Paras and a run out of our captain (Suhan Kumar) made a big difference today‚” said Dias adding Nepali players have matured as a team. 


Make runs take money 

KATHMANDU: It looks like making runs in the ACC Twenty20 Cup is making money. Paras made runs against Malaysia and he got richer by Rs 60,000. After smashing a solid 54-ball 87 in Nepal’s crucial 19-run victory over Malaysia on Saturday‚ Model Global Visas Consultancy (MGVC) handed over a cheque of Rs 50‚000 to Nepali skipper‚ according to their announcement prior to the tournament. The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) also rewarded him with Rs 10‚000 for Paras’ man-of-the-match performance. MGVC Managing Director Manoj Pandey had announced a cash prize of Rs 50‚000 to any Nepali batsmen who makes more than 75 runs in the ACC Twenty20 Cup. CAN is also giving away Rs 10‚000 to every man-of-the-match in Nepal’s victory during the tournament.

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