KATHMANDU, July 20: Nepal U-19 Cricket Team’s winning form in the ICC U-19 World Cup Division-1 Asia Qualifiers came to an end with a humiliating defeat by 141 runs to Afghanistan on Thursday.
Nepal had beaten home team Singapore and Malaysia by four and five wickets respectively in the first two matches, making a positive start in the competition.
However, failing to improve batting which has been a major woe for the Nepali team since the first match saw Binod Das’ side surrendering to the strong Afghani team.
In the match played at Singapore Cricket Club Ground, Padang, Nepal was packed for a paltry 49 runs in 26 overs while chasing the target of 191 runs. Nepal had invited Afghanistan to bat first after winning the toss. The Afghani team made 190 runs in the allotted 50 overs.
Now facing a big-margin defeat to the Afghanistan means Nepal’s chance of qualifying for the age group world cup to be held next year in New Zealand has suffered a big blow. Table topper Afghanistan has accumulated six points from three matches and Nepal staying in the second position has four points from equal number of matches.
To keep the world cup qualifying hope alive, Nepal will have to win its upcoming three matches including a big margin victory against Afghanistan. Nepal will now take on Malaysia on Friday while it faces home side Singapore three days later in the qualifiers to be played in double round robin league format. Likewise, Nepal will compete against Afghanistan in a crucial clash on July 25.
Meanwhile, Pawan Sarraf (26) was the only Nepali batsman to touch the double digit while four batsmen were out for a duck. Earlier, openers Sandeep Sunar and Aasif Sheikh gave a disastrous start to the Nepali innings as they were dismissed for just two and six runs, respectively. Two other batsmen Aadil Khan and Dipendra Singh Airee who came to bat at the third and fourth position respectively also failed to lay the foundation as they contributed just four runs each.
Nepal lost its middle order batsmen Pranit Thapa Magar, Anil Sah and Rohit Kumar Paudel back to back for zero run. Skipper Sandeep Lamichhane was another batsman to get dismissed without contributing a single run.
Afghanistan’s Naveen Ul Haq and Mujeeb Zadran claimed four wickets each to demolish the Nepali innings. Likewise, Yousuf and Zahir Khan took one wicket each for Afghanistan.
Earlier, Afghanistan made a positive start to the innings with its openers Naveed Obaid and Ibrahim Zadran building a 75-run partnership for the first wicket. Naveed scored 33 runs off 56 balls while Ibrahim stroked 43 runs facing 41 balls. Taria Stanikzai and Imran Mohammadi contributed 27 and 18 runs respectively to help the Afghani team make a respectable total. Likewise, skipper Naveen Ul Haq made 20 runs.
Shahab Alam was the pick of the Nepali bowlers as he pocketed three wickets. He was supported by Sandeep Lamichhane and Pawan Saraf who claimed two wickets each. Likewise, Kishore Mahato and Dipendra Singh Airee took one wicket each.