Afghanistan retain ACC Twenty20 title
Afghanistan have once again shown that they're the kings of Twenty20 cricket amongst the Asian non-test nations with a fourth consecutive ACC Twenty20 Cup win.
The final at the Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground in Kirtipur was played in front of a passionate crowd which some estimates put at over 20,000 strong. The match was televised in Nepal and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan won the toss and put Nepal into bat, and it was soon looking like the correct decision when Nepal found themselves on 23-3 in the fifth over. Captain Paras Khadka and Binod Bhandari then set about trying to recover the innings, and the pair put on 71 for the fourth wicket.
Nepal were scoring too slowly though, and the fourth wicket didn't actually fall until the 17th over, Bhandari having scored 32. Khadka stayed in and tried to provide some impetus to the innings, but he was run out having scored 50 from 40 balls from the last ball of the 18th over.
Sharad Vesawkar was the culprit in running out his captain, and he was also culpable in the subsequent run out of Prithu Baskota from the last ball of the 19th over. Vesawkar partly redeemed himself with three boundaries in the final over to help take Nepal to 135-6 from their 20 overs.
The target was always going to be in the reach of an often explosive Afghanistan batting line-up, even more so when the opening pair of Karim Sadiq and Gulbadin Naib put on 43 in seven overs before Sadiq was run out for 32 from 25 balls.
The next two wickets each put on 15 to take the score to 83-3 in 11.5 overs, with Gulbadin still at the crease. He and captain Mohammad Nabi then put on 54 for the fourth wicket to take Afghanistan over the finish line and give them the ACC Twenty20 title. Naib scored 43 from 42 balls, whilst Nabi scored 38 from just 23.
The huge Nepali crowd showed none of the poor behaviour they've been guilty of in the past, and instead gave both teams a round of applause after the contest. The tournament has been widely hailed as a success, with much of the tournament seeing big crowds, and many games being televised in Nepal.
Earlier in the day, the UAE beat Hong Kong by 32 runs in the third place play-off. All four semi-finalists will play in the global qualifiers in the UAE later this year - Afghanistan as a top six team from last time, UAE as hosts and Hong Kong and Nepal as the best two teams from this tournament not already pre-qualified.