Vice-captain Rahul Biswokarma bowled superbly for his best international performance as Nepal continued unbeaten run at the ACC U-19 Elite Cup with a 174-run victory over hosts Thailand in its last league match at AIT Ground.
Nepal expected a batting fireworks when it chose to bat first, which did not come as Thailand bowled well to restrict the four-time winners to 245/9 in 50 overs. Rahul’s 8/15 bowled out Thailand for mere 71 runs in 27.5 overs.
Rahul performance is his best international figure at any level surpassing his 7-wicket haul against USA in the final of the World Cricket League Division 5 in Kathmandu in 2008. It’s also best performance for Nepal as the age-group level bettering Raj Shrestha’s 7/16 against Qatar in ACC U-17 Cup in 2004.
Thailand began cautiously against Nepal, with a plan of not losing wickets even though runs were not coming and managed to reach 43/1 in 10 overs. But once spinners began bowling, it was a different tale and Rahul completely dominated the proceedings.
Bhuwan Karki took a wicket while the first wicket was down as run-out. For Thailand, opener Witsanukorn Thapthimthai scored 17, Daniel Leach 13 and Ishan Karla 10.
Nepal has now topped Group B and will play runners-up of Group A. Group A is wide open with Qatar confirming a quarterfinal spot. Any of five teams of the group can finish runners-up depending upon the equation of the matches to be played on February 6.
Earlier, Nepal rode on half-century by birthday-boy Prithu Baskota and classy knock by No 10 Bhuwan Karki to reach a formidable total.
Prithu, who came at 30/2 with both openers back to pavilion, scored 64 off just 62 balls with six fours and two sixes. He reached the landmark of half-century in 52 balls. He ran himself out.
Quite a few batsmen did get the start but could not convert them into big score. Sagar was out scoring 22 off 48. Rajesh Pulami (17), Pradeep Airee (27 off 14 balls) and Rahul BK (19) too got some runs.
Inability of Shiva Tandukar (1) and Krishna Karki (4) were out early and it looked like Nepal would score less than 200 as it went down to 196/9..
But last wicket partnership of unbeaten 49 runs between Bhuwan (36) and last man Avinash Karn (5 off 29 balls) concluded Nepal innings in a good total.
For Thailand, Jai Bhagwat took 3/60 in his 10 overs and Ishan Karla got 2/37 in 8 overs.
In other matches of the day, Bahrain pulled off the shock of the week at Chiang Mai Gymkhana by beating Qatar who had already qualified for the semi-finals.
Bahrain’s total of 111 looked far too small but Cyrus D’Souza dismissed Qatar’s star player on the way to figures of 5 for 16 and they were bowled out for 99 and Bahrain could celebrate victory by 12 runs.
Singapore had come close to success in both their previous matches and finally claimed victory when they held their nerve to beat Malaysia by four wickets at PTIS Oval. Malaysia recovered from 64 for 7 to score 137 and Singapore kept their supporters on edge throughout their innings before reaching their target.
Defending champions Hong Kong must now beat Malaysia to be sure of a place in semi-finals, while the winners of the match between Afghanistan and UAE will also qualify for a place in the last four.