Nepal accomplish mission (U-16 Cricket)
A late onslaught from Pawan Sharraf ensured Nepal claim the maiden ACC U-16 Premier League title with a 32-run victory over Malaysia at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The victory ended Nepal’s five-year wait for an age-group title. They last embraced success in the 2009 ACC U-17 title, beating the same opponents at their own backyard.
In a rematch of 2012 ACC U-16 Elite final where Malaysia had edged Nepal at the same venue, the latter rode on a gritty 44 from Sharraf to post 161-9 in 40 overs.
A poor communication between the Malaysian batsmen resulted into four run outs as the hosts were bundled out for 129 in 36.2 overs. “We are the winners of the first edition of ACC U-16 Premier League. We are very happy to have accomplished our mission,” said assistant coach Raju Basnyat terming the victory a historical one.
“We outplayed Malaysia in both bowling and batting departments. We had to return as runners-up in previous tournaments but today we are returning home with the title. It was also a sweet revenge,” the former Nepali international Basnyat added.
Put into bat first, Nepal managing just 54 runs from the first 20 overs after losing opener Sushant Singh (nine) and Rabin Chand (seven) early on. Aasif Sheikh (20) also departed early after hitting with three boundaries in his 55-ball stay as Nepal were tottering at 64-3 by the 22nd over.
Malaysia were very much in control of the match when they accounted for the wickets of skipper Sumit Maharjan (three), Rabindra Jung Shahi and Pranit Thapa (nine) to reduce Nepal to 94-6 in 30 overs. Sharraf then capped a wonderful day with power-hitting on his way to a 56-run stand for the seventh wicket with Jitendra Singh (13).
Man-of-the-match Sharraf smashed 44 off just 26 balls with two sixes and four boundaries as Nepal crossed 150-run mark that ultimately proved to be the deciding factor. Muhammad Islah was the pick of the Malaysia bowlers with figures of 4-32. Shahi was the next best contributor for Nepal with 34 runs off 57 deliveries that included two hits to the fence.
Nepal got their defence back on to the track when two crucial run outs, including that of the best batsman of the tournament Malaysian skipper Virandeep Singh (five), reduced the hosts to 27-2 in 11 overs. Two quick wickets from Singh meant Malaysia were precariously positioned at
39-4 in 17 overs. Muhammad Fadli made sure Malaysia remain in the hunt with 27-run stand with Saif Ullah Malik (nine) and another 25 with Islah (21).
However, after left-arm medium-pacer Rijan Dhakal removed Fadli, Malaysian slide continued as they lost the last five wickets for just 36 runs. Fadli made 34 off 32 balls. Singh took 2-25, while Ashish Pokhrel, Anil Kharel and Maharjan also had one scalp apiece.