Afghanistan win Under-19 Elite Cup
After they had a disappointing eight wicket defeat to Hong Kong in the 2009 final, Afghanistan Under-19s have made no mistake this time with an easy win over Nepal in the 2011 final in Thailand.
They very nearly didn't get the win though, as their batting performance was far from ideal. After an opening partnership of 42, they began to lose wickets regularly, and were on 115-3 before numbers 7 and 8 finally gave their innings some respectability. Noorulhaq Malekzai scored 34, whilst Mohibullah Paak hit an unbeaten 36 from 23 balls to take Afghanistan's total to 200-9. Pradeep Airee was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 5-43.
That target should have been in with Nepal's reach, but they were quickly reduced to 31-4. Rajesh Pulami and Pradeep Airee then set about rebuilding the innings with an 83 run partnership for the fifth wicket before Pulami was run out. That sparked another collapse which was to be the undoing of the Nepal run chase.
They went from 114-4 to 116-7 in quick succession and, whilst Airee did stay in to make 59, the damage was done and Nepal were bowled out for 139 to lose by 61 runs. Airee was awarded the man of the match award for a fine all-round effort, but that was scant consolation for missing out on the championship.
Nepal though have still qualified for the global qualifier in Ireland this year, where they will join today's winners Afghanistan as the two Asian representatives.
Namibia, Kenya, Scotland and Ireland qualified from the African and European qualifiers last year, whilst Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu secured their spots as the East Asia Pacific representatives after today's play in the EAP qualifier. The two Americas qualifiers are still to be determined, but are likely to be Canada and the USA, barring any upsets in tomorrow's matches in Florida.
The third place play-off, also played today, saw Qatar beat Hong Kong by 6 wickets. The other play-offs took place on Wednesday. The UAE beat Bahrain by 6 wickets in the fifth place play-off, Malaysia beat hosts Thailand by 6 wickets to secure seventh place, whilst the battle of the two bottom teams saw Singapore finish in ninth place after beating Oman by 5 wickets.
The next ACC tournament will be the women's Twenty20 championship, which starts in Kuwait on 18 February. In addition to the hosts, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, Thailand and the UAE will take part.