Nepal were high on confidence after defeating Test giants India and giving a tough challenge to Bangladesh in the group stages of the ACC U-19 Asia Cup. The courageous performance coupled with a maiden spot in the semi-finals where coach Binod Das had assured that we could see a different performance from Nepali team against the Afghans.
But Nepal’s lackluster performance during the July ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers for Asia Region in Singapore reflected on Friday’s semi-final with the team dismissed for a paltry total of 103 in just 28 overs. Nepal have now gone on to play eight straight matches against Afghanistan in last six years without surviving full 50 overs.
Afghanistan had bundled out Nepal for 47 and 99 in their crushing 141-run and 96-run victories in July’s Qualifiers and the recent past came to haunt Nepal when they were asked to bat first at the Kinrara Oval. Mujeeb Zadran was once again the chief tormentor as he destroyed Nepal’s top and middle order picking up six wickets in his 10-over spell to lay the foundation for a big victory. Mujeeb had also taken seven wickets, collectively in the two matches, against Nepal in Singapore.
Nepal’s capitulation against a spinner whom they have already played leaves a lot of question on how strategies were made by Nepali think tank ahead of the big game.
Aasif Sheikh (duck), Jitendra Singh Thakuri (one), Dipendra Singh Airee (six) and Rohit Kumar Paudel (four) all fell to Mujeeb inside the first 12 overs.
Mujeeb had his last laugh on Anil Sah, who had always looked positive throughout Nepal’s tour, after the No 3 batsman made a well-compiled 50 off 57 deliveries. Sah, who also hit a six off Mujeeb, was the best from the lot hitting seven boundaries. Rest of the players from Friday’s playing XI had meekly surrendered.
Nepal’s bowling had impressed throughout the tournament but with just 104 runs to defend, there was hardly anything they could do with Afghanistan already boasting a strong batting line up. Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz did the bulk of the scoring to make 71 off 65 with nine fours and two sixes as Afghans cantered to victory in just 20.3 overs.
The only bright spot for Nepal was the dismissal of Gurbaz and Ikram Al Khil (18) after the match resumed following over-an-hour rain intervention. Afghanistan will now take pride for playing their first ever ACC U-19 Asia Cup final irrespective of how they fare against Pakistan.
U19 Asia Cup – Semi-finale
Nepal U19 VS Afghanistan U19
Afghanistan U19 won the toss and elected to field first
Nepal U19 – 103/10 in 28 overs
Anil Kumar Sah – 50 runs in 57 balls (7 fours and 1 six)
Pawan Sarraf – 8 runs in 50 balls (1 four)
Mujeeb UR Rahman – 10-2-28-6
Qais Ahmad Kamawal – 6-0-23-2
Afghanistan U19 – 108/3 in 20.3 overs
Rahmanullah Gurbaz – 71 runs in 65 balls (9 fours and 2 sixes)
Ikram Ali Khil – 18 runs in 35 balls
Pawan Sarraf – 1-0-2-1
Sandeep Lamichhane – 6-1-22-1
Kamal Singh Airee – 7-1-29-1
Afghanistan U19 won the match by 7 wickets and are through to the final of ACC U19 Asia Cup