Undefeated Nepal facing UAE in semi-final

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By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, Apr. 18: Nepal has continued its winning streak at the ACC Men’s Premier Cup 2024. 

Defeating Saudi Arabia in the final group-stage match of the tournament on Wednesday, Nepal progressed into the semi-final as the topper of Group A with four wins in four matches. Nepal is facing the UAE, second positioned team of Group B, in the semi-final scheduled on Friday.

As per the tournament’s fixtures, the top team of a group faces the second-positioned team of the opposite group in the semi-final. 

In Group A, Hong Kong was able to secure the second position defeating Malaysia by seven wickets on Wednesday. Restricting Malaysia to 140 runs in 20 overs, Hong Kong chased the target of 141 successfully in 12.1 overs. Chasing the target early, Hong Kong was able to go above Qatar, which had also won two of the four matches, in net run rate. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is facing Group B topper Oman in the semi-final.

Oman eased past Kuwait by 46 runs to remain unbeaten and top the Group B with eight points. The UAE also trounced Cambodia by nine wickets to occupy the second position with six points from three wins and one loss. 

Nepal’s fourth win

Defeating Malaysia, Qatar and Hong Kong, Nepal’s team was on a winning streak in the second edition of the ACC Men’s Premier Cup. And, on Wednesday, Nepal ended the group stage without any loss by defeating Saudi Arabia in a close contest. The match kicked off around two hours later due to a wet field. As a result, the match between Nepal and Saudi Arabia was reduced to eight overs each. In the reduced match, Nepal won the toss and elected to field first. 

With only eight overs to play, Saudi Arabian batsmen tried hitting as many boundaries as they could. However, rather than scoring, they got out. 

Saudi Arabia lost seven wickets in eight overs with 73 runs on the board. In at three, Abdul Waheed was the only Saudi Arabian to score in double figures in the first inning.

Moreover, only two other batsmen – Faisal Khan and Kashif Abbas – scored a boundary for Saudi Arabia. The duo got out after hitting one six each.

Abdul added 37 off 16, with three fours and three sixes, before getting struck leg-before by Pratis GC in the 6th over. It was the only wicket for GC in the only over he bowled. GC was inducted into the squad as Sompal Kami was possibly rested for the semi-final.

While Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi also took a wicket, Karan KC and Abinash Bohara bagged two each. Of the five bowlers used, Dipendra Singh Airee, bowling one over, was the only bowler to not take a wicket. 

While the target should have been an easy chase for Nepal, the team struggled at the beginning. Losing three wickets by 2.2 overs, Nepal was at 15/3

The two openers, Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh were caught out, while a brilliant yorker bowled out in-at-three Kushal Malla. Bhurtel departed for a duck while Aasif and Malla added two runs each.

It was only after Dipendra Singh Airee entered the crease as the fourth wicket that Nepal saw the first boundary. However, before taking the team to the win, Airee (17 off 9) was caught out in the final ball of the fifth over.  

As updated on April 16, Airee has climbed 16 positions in the ICC Men’s T20I Batting Ranking and reached the 62nd position. Moreover, he climbed 14 positions in the ICC Men’s T20I All-rounder Ranking. Airee is now the 11th-best all-rounder in T20Is. 

Meanwhile, it was the partnership of Gulshan Jha and skipper Rohit Kumar Paudel that ensured the win for Nepal. Gulshan scored 32 off 19 while Paudel added 16 off 7 to chase the target with four balls remaining. 

Aiming to participate in the Asia Cup once again, Nepal will be eying the cup by winning the next two matches.  

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