KATHMANDU, July 21: Nepali U-19 bowlers combined to take last five wickets for seven runs to deliver Nepal a memorable win over Singapore U-19 in a close match in the ICC U-19 World Cup Division-1 Asia Qualifiers on Friday.
In the 7th match of the qualifiers played at the Indian Association grounds, Nepal skipper Sandeep Lamichhane continued his good form as he added another four wickets taking his tally to 16 wickets. Nepal won the match by 22 runs defending the score of 168 runs as Singapore lost all their wickets for 146 runs in the 47th over.
Singapore was cruising at 139 for five wickets as wicket-keeper batsman Hanshul Deep Singhania top-scored 32 runs including one boundary and two sixes before falling prey to Lamichhane. Pawan Sarraf and Kishore Mahato picked up two wickets each while Dipendra Singh Airee claimed an important wicket of Brigu Iyer. Sidhant Singh and the only centurion of the tournament Rohan Rangarajan added 25 and 23 runs respectively at top of the order.
Earlier, Nepal won the toss and elected to bat first. Shahab Alam and Aadil Khan were replaced by Lalit Rajbanshi and Prakash KC in the starting XI. Anil Sah opened the innings but could score only seven runs before being caught out by Iyer. Middle order all-rounder Airee smashed most runs for Nepal contributing 54 runs which included two boundaries and two sixes. It was first fifty of the qualifiers by a Nepali batsman. Opener Sandeep Sunar and Prakash KC added 26 and 23 runs respectively to the Nepal's total of 168 runs before losing all their wickets also in the 47th over.
Leg-break bowler Bikram Bir Biswaray claimed three wickets for Singapore supported by Gopinath Aahan and Aryaman Sunil's two wickets each. Ansh Bhargava and Rangarajan chipped in a wicket each.
Binod Das, who was not entirely satisfied with the batting performance of his side said, "We chose to bat first because we want to spend as much time as possible on a slightly cold pitch but we are yet to get our rhythm back in batting but we are getting better than the previous performance against Afghanistan.''
Das added, "As far as batting is concerned, the pitch got better in the second innings. We also chose to bat first to play the full 50 overs on bowling-friendly condition. We did perform better today but there is a lot of room for improvement.''
Praising Airee's performance, Das said, "Dipendra is a class player and I expect him to make big runs.''
"We need to make changes if things do not work and we had decided to send Anil in the starting XI and see how he performs. But, he got caught. We have Aadil as well, so let's see how things go.''
Nepal is second on the table with six points while the Afghan side is sitting at the top with eight points. Singapore is third with two points followed by Malaysia at the bottom with zero points. The team which finishes tops at the end of all the league matches will qualify for the ICC U-19 World Cup next year to be held in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan decimated Malaysia by 10 wickets completing the target of 59 runs in 5.4 overs. Afghanistan's off-break bowler Mujeeb Zadran registered the best bowling figures of the tournament claiming six wickets in 10 overs conceding 23 runs.
Nepal had made a positive start to their qualifying campaign beating home team Singapore and Malaysia by four and five wickets respectively in their first two matches only to face defeat to Afghanistan in the third match by a huge margin of 141 runs.
Nepal will next play against Malaysia on July 24 at the Indian Association Ground and Afghanistan will face Singapore on the same day at Singapore Cricket Club, Padang.