KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14: Nepal has reached the semifinals of the ongoing ACC U-19 Eastern Region Cricket Tournament on Wednesday.
The Nepali age-group team defeated Bhutan by nine wickets in its second group stage match to extend its points tally to four from two matches and secure the semifinal berth.
Nepal had overcome Thailand by 255 runs in its first match to make a flying start to the competition.
Despite having equal points as of another semi finalist Singapore, Nepal is at the top of Group A on the basis of better run-rate and the matches between the two sides on Thursday will decide the group winner.
In Wednesday's match played at Kinrara Oval Cricket Ground, Kuala Lumpur, Bhutan opting to bat first after winning the toss, was bowled out for a paltry 50 runs in 28 overs. In reply, Nepal raced to the target with the loss of just one wicket in 8.3 overs.
Head coach Binod Das said that his team still has room for improvement despite the big-margin win. “Overall, our bowling was good but we gifted some runs to the opponent. We have to improve further in the upcoming matches,” said head coach Das.
He also seemed confident regarding the next clash against Singapore. “It will not be hard for us to pull victory against Singapore if we play up to our level. If rain doesn't disturb the game, we are hopeful of victory,” added Das.
Skipper Dipendra Singh Airee claimed five wickets while he was supported by in-form spinner Sandeep Lamichhane who dismissed four Bhutanese batsmen. Likewise, Nandan Yadav pocketed one wicket.
The Bhutanese innings saw three ducks while only two batsmen managed to reach double digit figures.
Pem Chedup and Tshering Penjor were sent to the pavilion for duck in Airee's deliveries. Airee was later declared the man-of-the match. Likewise, Yowon Pradhan was another batsman failing to strike any run as he was dismissed by former skipper Lamichchane.
Tashi Phuntsho contributed highest 16 runs off 55 balls whereas opener Ugyen Dorji (13) was another batsman with double digit score.
Nepal's opening pair of Sandeep Sunar and Mohamed Asif Sheikh stroked 21 and 23 runs respectively. Sunar hit three boundaries and two sixes facing 26 balls while unbeaten Sheikh's 23 runs included three boundaries in 21 deliveries. Likewise, not-out Anil Kumar Sah made four runs off five balls as Nepal met the target with ease.