Nepal secured their berth for the U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka next year following a thrilling seven-run victory over the United Arab Emirates in the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup Asia Zone Qualifiers on Thursday.
A brilliant hat-trick by Dipesh Kandel in the 47th over secured Nepal’s victory. Nepal have last played in the U-19 World Cup in 2016.
Nepal, who made 191 runs in 48.5 overs after being invited to bat first, bowled out the UAE for 184 runs in 48 overs at the Eden Gardens in Ajman.
Nepal progressed unbeaten through the competition, defeating Singapore by 96 runs, Kuwait by 243 runs, Hong Kong by nine wickets and Malaysia by 10 wickets on the way to set up the summit clash with the UAE.
The UAE made a good start, as openers Aryan Saxena and Aryansh Sharma put on 67 runs in 17.2 overs. Subhas Bhandari bowled out Sharma for 32 runs.
Nepal then made further inroad, claiming two more wickets for five runs to reduce the UAE to 72-3. But Saxena and Dhruv Parashar shared 42 runs for the fourth wicket.
Deepesh Kandel eventually got the measure of Saxena, forcing a catch to Deepak Dumre for 34 runs.
Nepal began to tighten their grip in the match after Bhandari had UAE captain Aayan Khan caught by Khanal for a duck in the 22nd over.
UAE middle-order batter Ethan D’Souza led the home side’s fightback with a fifty, hitting five boundaries in his 66-ball knock.
Spinner Dipesh Kandel returned Parashar to the pavilion for 17 runs after Bishal KC took a brilliant catch at long-on.
Kandel claimed five wickets, giving away 42 runs, while Bhandari took two wickets for 39 runs.
Earlier, Nepal remarkably recovered from an early setback thanks to captain Dev Khanal’s half-century.
Nepal, invited to bat first, lost opener Deepak Bohara when he was bowled in the first ball of their innings by pacer Harit Harish Shetty.
The other opener, Arjun Kumal, did not last too long either, as he fell for three runs in the fourth over to spinner Harshit Seth.
Shetty then bowled Akash Tripathi for nine runs to leave Nepal on 19-3.
Khanal and Uttam Thapamagar shared an 84-run partnership for the fourth wicket to rescue Nepal from the dire situation.
Khanal, who cracked a brilliant 125 against Kuwait, made 50 runs off 75 balls with three fours and a six. Thapamagar scored 36 runs with the help of three fours and a six. He faced 48 balls before being out leg before to Khan.
Nepal continued to lose wickets at regular intervals after Khanal’s departure.
Bishal KC tried to hold on, playing some lofted shots during the 50-ball innings before being trapped leg before for 38 runs. The UAE wrapped up Nepal’s innings under 200.
Parashar took three wickets for the UAE, while Khan and Shetty took two wickets apiece.
CAN announces Rs100,000 cash reward for each team member
The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has announced a cash prize of Rs100,000 to each member of the Nepali U-19 side following their qualification to the ICC U-19 World Cup.
Nepal U-19 side defeated the United Arab Emirates by seven runs in a dramatic ICC U-19 World Cup Asia Qualifiers final held in Ajman on Thursday.
Nepal had earlier played in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup tournaments.