The ACC Under-19 tournament got started in Malaysia today. The winners will play-off against Scotland for a spot in the next Under-19 World Cup, also in Malaysia, a rather laborious route, and possibly unfair given Nepal's success in Under-19 World Cups in the past, finishing 9th in 2006.
Four matches were played today, and two of them went right down to the wire, with Oman beating Thailand with two balls to spare, and Qatar upsetting Hong Kong with a last-ball victory. Nepal beat Singapore and Afghanistan beat Malaysia in the other matches.
Thailand were put into bat against Oman, and just batted out their 50 overs for 185, losing the tenth wicket fom the final ball of their innings. Nishadh Rego top-scored with 45 for Thailand, whilst Suneet Fernandes was the pick of the bowlers with 4/27.
Oman's reply got off to the worst possible start when they lost a wicket from the first ball of their innings, and they lost a second wicket six overs later. But a 108 run partnership between Shrey Wilson and Gaurav Honavar looked to be leading them to an easy win. But Thailand then took six wickets for just 32 runs in the next nine overs, leading Oman to limp over the line with two balls to spare to win by two wickets.
Qatar won the toss and chose to field, and quickly had Hong Kong struggling at 33/4 after 11 overs. A fightback led by Jamie Atkinson (65) lifted Hong Kong to 174/9 from their 50 overs. Kamran Khan was the pick of the Qatar bowlers with 3/35.
Hong Kong got right on top of the Qatati batsmen, removing two of them before Qatar had reached 20. They recovered though, and were well on track on 63/3 at the 21st over. But the game swung back Hong Kong's way when they reduced Qatar to 99/7 from 34 overs. Qatar had reached 148/7 after 46 overs, and it looked set for a close finish.
A close finish was exactly what we got, as the tailenders scored 27 runs from the last four overs, winning the game from the very last ball. Qatar's Faheem Sajjad was named man of the match for his 53, making the backbone of the Qatar chase.
Hosts Malaysia chose to bat first against Afghanistan, and their coach hoped to make a score approaching 250. But they couldn't even make half that, and were bowled out for 122 inside 43 overs, only two batsman reached double figures. Afghanistan did lose 6 wickets in pursuit of their total, but did make it with more than 8 overs to spare, Sajed Khan and N ul-Haq both scoring 34.
Defending champions Nepal had a simple match against Singapore. They breezed through the Singapore batting line up to dismiss them for 107, chasing down the target in just over 20 overs to win by seven wickets.