Nepali rookies won the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U-15 Elite Cup played in a two-day format outplaying UAE in the final at the Kinrara Cricket Academy Ground Thursday.

“This is my biggest achievement with Nepal Cricket so far,” said coach Roy Dias for whom it was yet another feather in his cap. “It is a miracle because none of the boys had played a proper cricket match prior to representing the country at international level and they had the tag of defending champion to handle. It proves that Nepali players are naturally superior in the region because these boys were hand picked with three days remaining for the tournament.”

In the drawn final Nepal acquired 16 bonus points against UAE’s eight to win the inaugural tournament in this format. Nepal, largely due to the performance of the best batsman of the tournament Subendu Pandey, gave UAE a mammoth target of 303 runs to win with just over an hour of play remaining on the second day today.

Earlier, Nepal wiped out UAE tail this morning in just two overs at 75 runs. Nepal could have enforced the follow on but coach Roy Dias opted to play safe and Nepal resumed its second innings.

Sagar Pun (3) did not last long as Nepal lost the first wicket with just 12 runs on the board. However, the other opener Subendu resumed from where he had left on the first day and hammered UAE bowlers all around the park. In his 82 runs, the highest individual score for Nepal in the tournament, he hit 12 fours and played 111 balls. For his 133 runs in the match, he was adjudged the man of the final as well.

“I would like to dedicate my success to the entire team and officials,” said the opener who scored three fifties to total 239 in four matches in the tournament. He was dropped for the first match against Malaysia. “It has also added an extra sense of responsibility as there will be expectations from next time around.”

Skipper Prithu Banskota also contributed responsibly with 35 runs before being trapped leg before. He shared a 69-run third wicket stand with Subendu to help Nepal pile up the lead past 300 runs.

He hit two half centuries and was the second highest scorer for Nepal totaling 189 runs in five matches.

Santosh Bhatta (16) and Pradeep Aire (18) were the other significant contributors in the second innings for Nepal which was bowled out for 200 runs in 74.4 overs. For UAE, skipper Manish Kishor Dhakan took five wickets.

In the UAE second innings, Krishna Karki and Rochak Bhatta claimed a wicket each as both the captains agreed to call it a day with half an hour of play remaining when UAE was 49/2 in 10.5 overs. Right arm medium fast bowler Krishna was one of the highest wicket takers of the tournament taking 20 wickets including the finals. Legspinner Rochak Bhatta, on the other hand, took his wicket count to 14 with a wicket each in two innings of the final.

Nepal was one of the most disciplined team of the tournament as well and received all-round applause during the presentation ceremony where over a dozen of Nepali students cheered for Nepal. President of Malaysian Cricket Association Prince Tunku Imran gave away the trophy to Nepal while ACC CEO Ashrafful Haq awarded UAE. David Mathias, Bahrain captain was declared the best all-rounder and the best bowler with well over 200 runs and 25 wickets in the tournament. Sankarsh Salman of Bahrain was declared the best wicket-keeper.

Text/Photo: Devendra Subedi, Malaysia