HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s search for the maiden ACC U-16 Elite Cup remained elusive after losing the closely-contested championship match against hosts Malaysia by one wicket at the Kinrara Oval grounds in Kuala Lumpur today.
Electing to bat first, Nepal were all out for 117 runs in 33 overs before Malaysia surpassed the total for the loss of nine wickets with five balls to spare in the 40-over a-side match. It was the first ACC age-group title for Malaysia.
Barring the U-16 Elite Cup, Nepal have won all the ACC-organised age-group tournaments. The defeat meant Nepal have been deprived of the U-16 trophy for the second successive time since the event was introduced in 2010. Nepal lost the 2010 final against Singapore, the team they dumped out in the semi-finals this time.
Furthermore, the defeat was also the bitter pills to swallow for the Nepali side who eked out a thrilling one wicket victory over Malaysia to finish as the Group winners earlier in the tournament. The fashion of the Malaysian victory was somewhat similar to that of the Nepal’s victory in the final group stage.
Down and out, Akash Bista — who struck an unbeaten half century batting lower down the order — was the saviour for Nepal during their group match against Malaysia. In the final it was opener Virandeep Singh who kept his cool in making a half century to see Malaysia home with one wicket left.
Nepali openers Dipendra Chand and Nurdhoj Sen (19)made a good start putting on 24 runs in the first 26 balls. But once skipper Dipendra (21) lost his wicket, Nepal never settled in and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Akash once again was the only batsman to put any sort of resistence.
Promoted up the order from No 8 to No 5 after that group-stage victory over Malaysia, Akash top scored with 35 runs. He struck six boundaries in his 54-ball innings. Sashi Misra was the next best contributor with 17-ball 14, which included three hits to the fence. Shankar Goonasagaran was pick of the Malaysian bowlers with 3-25 while Pavandeep Singh, Sharvin Muniandy and Shankar Satish claimed two wicket apiece.
With a modest total to defend, Nepal needed an early breakthrough. And Akash gave them one, dismissing opener Nalin de Silva (0) in the fifth ball of his first over, and the second of the Malaysian innings. But Silva’s opening partner Virandeep and Vinay Singh (22) consolidated the innings by putting on 47-run partnership for the second wicket.
The dismissal of Vinay in the 19th over gave Nepal a faint hope to clawing their way back into the match. As wickets started to tumble, Malaysia suddenly looked vulnerable but man-of-the-match Virandeep held his nerves at the other end to guide his side home.
Virandeep struck seven boundaries in his invaluable 119-ball knock. Akash and Kalicharan Yadav bagged two wickets each, while Jagdish Chand, Dipendra and Sashi Misra took one apice for Nepal.