Nepal move one step closer
Nepal have again showed themselves to be by far the best Asian team at Under-19 level by beating Afghanistan in the final of the ACC Under-19 Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
After opting to bat first, Nepal soon found themselves in trouble when they lost their first two wickets with just three runs on the board, and were then reduced to 60/5, before Akash Gupta hit 48 at a run a ball in a sixth wicket partnership of 61 with Sagar Khadka. Khadka stayed in once Gupta was out and went on to score 32, the tail staying in until two balls from the end for a total of 172.
Afghanistan's innings started even worse than Nepal's, with only Mohammad Shirzai showing any fight with an innings of 66. But when he was the sixth man out with the score on just 108, Afghanistan's hopes vanished and they were bowled out for 124. Shashi Kesari, who played in the 2004 Under-19 World Cup aged just 13, was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 3/32.
Nepal thus win by 48 runs, and are now one step from reaching their fifth consecutive Under-19 World Cup. Despite what the ICC announced in an erroneous media release which was subsequently reported in several other places, they still need to win a play-off against European runner-up Scotland to return to Malaysia next year.