Ratan Rauniyar (wearing bandana) with his team-mates moments after hitting the winning runs. ©ICC

Nepal made the world take notice of their cricketing potential with an incredible one-wicket victory over New Zealand in the Plate Final of the ICC U-19 World Cup.

They’ve worried England, run Zimbabwe close, beaten South Africa and now New Zealand along with every other Associate challenger in the competition to firmly establish themselves as a top-class cricketing nation at youth level.

Nepal’s captain Kanishka Chaugai had said before the Plate Final that it was Nepal’s ambition to do better than in previous World Cups by beating not just one, but two Test-nations and this was done at the P. Sara grounds in a manner that would have aged the mature young man even further.

Nepal were exemplary in the field as their new-ball pair Amrit Bhattarai and Paras Khadka pegged New Zealand back early, left-armer Khadka taking two in consecutive deliveries in his second over with deliveries that curved into the batsmen. All of the New Zealanders made starts, though none apart from opener Todd Astle were able to go on and make a significant score.

The bowlers all kept the ball well up to the bat and the in-fielding was sharp. Restricting New Zealand to 204 was a fine achievement and gave Nepal every chance of victory.

New Zealand’s new ball bowlers Hamish Bennett and Tim Southee huffed and puffed but couldn’t get any breakthroughs initially, but Colin Munro coming on first change in the ninth over dismissed Chaugai and opening partner Chhetri. Nepal endeavoured to rebuild but a flurry of wickets around the second power-play had Nepal tottering at 75 for 6.

Prem Chaudhary and Basant Regmi continued their partnership against South Africa in the previous match with a vital 70-run stand which blunted the New Zealand attack and gave considerable heart to their team-mates in the dressing-room. However, Chaudhary’s dismissal was followed by Shashi Kesari’s soon after and at 148 for 8, Nepal still had a mountain to climb.

Nepal's Basant Regmi works Colin Munro away ©ICC

But they are a team of fighters.

Regmi, dashed and flashed and scotched all that New Zealand flung at him, he passed 50 and then brought his team to within a few boundaries of victory when he was caught behind off the persevering Bennett. New Zealand just needed one more wicket.

At the other end, Ratan Rauniyar had been finding the boundary and with last-man Raj Shrestha feeding him the strike, with three deliveries remaining Nepal needed just four runs for a remarkable victory.

Munro bowled one a little wide of off-stump and Rauniyar stepping forward, crashed it through point for the winning runs.

Victory sealed by the last-wicket pair. ©ICC

The Nepalis’ roar echoed throughout the stadium. “With this win we have shown that we are a strong cricket team. To win like this and beat two Test-nations is amazing and we will carry this spirit into the senior team in the years to come,” said an ecstatic Chaugai.

It is a truly significant result.

Plate Championship Final: Nepal v New Zealand, P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat
New Zealand: 204 off 49.2 overs (T. Astle 66; B. Regmi 3-41)
Nepal: 205 for 9 off 49.4 overs (B. Regmi 66; H. Bennett 3-42)
Man of the Match: Basanta Regmi (Nepal)
View Scorecard >>

Filed February 20 2006