KATHMANDU, Nov 15: Nepal reached the semifinals of the ACC U-19 Youth Asia Cup for the first time ever, Tuesday.
Nepali young cricket team wasn't just in need of a win over home team Malaysia in its last group match but its qualification was dependent on the result of the encounter between India and Bangladesh.
Nepal overcame Malaysia by eight wickets and Bangladesh defeated defending India by the same figure in another match.
With these results, Nepal advance to the last four as group A runner-up with four points from two matches, whereas undefeated Bangladesh secured its berth as group winner with six points.
India, which had won the tournament for three straight editions, staying undefeated, crashed out from this fourth edition after suffering two losses in the group stage.
Heavyweight India's first ever defeat in the tournament came on Sunday, when Nepal stunned it with a 19-run victory.
Nepal will now face Afghanistan in the semifinal match on Thursday while Bangladesh and Pakistan are in the other last-four clash. Afghanistan and Pakistan booked their places in the semifinals as the top two teams of group B.
Both semifinal matches will be played at the Kinrara Oval Cricket Ground in Kuala Lumpur.
The match between Nepal and Malaysia at the Bayuemas Oval Cricket Ground in the city of Klang was reduced to 24 overs due to rain.
Nepal won the toss and invited Malaysia for batting, before bowling out the host team for a paltry 45 in 15.3 overs. Nepal reached 51-2 in 5.3 overs.
After guiding his team to the semifinals, Nepal's head cocah Binod Das said the hard work by his players paid off.
“We are through to semifinals with wonderful performances. We have performed consistently throughout the tournament. I think our hard work has paid off,” said Das.
He also said that his players played as per the strategy. “The situation was tricky today but we made it as per the plan. It did not start well with the ball, but once the spinners came in, we dominated. In batting, we had a plan to attack from the start and Anil batted well,” he added.
Sandeep Lamichhane was instrumental in Nepal restricting the Malaysian team to a low score. He claimed 5-8 in 4.3 overs. He was supported by skipper Dipendra Singh Airee and Shahab Alam who pocketed two wickets each. Anil Kumar Sah added one wicket for the winning team.
Syed Aziz Syed Mubarak was top scorer for Malaysia. He made 21-ball 20 while Virandeep Jagjit Singh contributed 10 runs. Beside these two batsmen, no one touched a double digit figure for Malaysia.
Nepal made an average start to the innings with its openers Anil Kumar Sah and Mahamad Asif Sheikh building up a 27-run partnership for the first wicket.
Unbeaten Sah made 26 runs in 15 deliveries while Sheikh was dismissed for only four runs. Skipper Airee scored 12 runs that included two sixes in three balls.
Vijay Unni pocketed both wickets for Malaysia.
Nepal's head coach Das said that the semifinal match against Afghanistan will be a tough one. “The match against Afghanistan will not be easy since it has downed big teams with great performances,” said Das. “Afghanistan knows us well, so it will be a tricky match. But we will fight till the last ball.”
Afghanistan booked its place in the last four as Group B winner. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all had four points each and the top two teams were declared on the basis of run-rate. Afghanistan had stunned Pakistan by seven wickets in the first group stage match.