KATHMANDU, March 7: Nepal cricket team ended the disappointing ACC Eastern Region Asia Cup Qualifiers after the final league match against Singapore was abandoned without a toss in Bangkok on Friday. The wet outfield due to overnight rain at the Terdthai Cricket Ground was deemed unfit to play by the match officials.
The match was delayed from its normal time as officials scheduled an inspection of the ground to assess playing condition. The match was finally abandoned by the officials after the second inspection of the ground. Both teams, Nepal and Singapore shared a point each.
Unbeaten Singapore with seven points on the table qualified for the Asia Cup final qualifiers and joined United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in the group. Nepal finished fourth with three points including a win against bottom-placed winless home team Thailand.
Similarly, in the other match of the day, Hong Kong defeated Malaysia in a virtual playoff by six wickets to seal its place in the Asia Cup qualifiers as the second team from the eastern region. Hong Kong limited Malaysia for 132 runs for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs before completing the chase in 18.5 overs to secure qualification. Hong Kong collected a total of six points winning against Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal.
Hong Kong recently depleted by the absence of star players like Mark Chapman, Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat had a remarkable campaign. The final qualifiers for Asia Cup places will be played in Malaysia in August.
Nepal had a disappointing campaign losing first two matches against lowly ranked Malaysia and Hong Kong. Identical batting collapses coincided by poor form of Nepal’s most successful batsman Paras Khadka. Nepal lost by 22 runs against Malaysia in the opening match. Similarly, Nepal lost its second group match against Hong Kong by 43 runs. Khadka batted thrice in the league and scored a total of 22 runs off 22 deliveries.
Likewise, rest of the batting failed to close matches from winning positions. Binod Bhandari, the experienced wicket-keeper batsman, batting at lower-middle order, entrusted with finishing duties, could muster a total of 12 runs off 17 deliveries. Skipper Gyanendra Malla and Dipendra Singh Airee struggled with strike-rate whereas other players like Aarif Sheikh could not get going throughout the series.
Nepal’s solitary win came against Thailand on Wednesday defeating the home team by nine wickets. Karan KC won the player-of-the-match for scalping three wickets limiting Thailand for 66 runs in 20 overs. Nepal chased the target in 5.3 overs.
Nepal, touted as group winners before the league, finished fourth behind Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.