Gyanendra Malla (left) and Prem Chaudhary (right)

Nepal put up a gutsy performance to get to the Plate Final by edging South Africa by just two runs.

Having passed 100 for the loss of just one wicket in the 22nd over, Kanishka Chaugai looking good on 55, Nepal would have been hoping for a score close to 250. Chaugai’s fall to a bizarre stumping (off a wide, with the keeper, having already dislodged a bail with his glove, then uprooting a stump with a befuddled Chaugai still well short of the crease) meant that Nepal lost their best batsman just at a time when they would have been looking to build upon their good start.

Basant Regmi

Three wickets fell for the addition of just 11 runs for the twenty overs after Chaugai’s dismissal only 67 runs were scored by Nepal. South Africa’s spinners Neves and Symes bowled their full allocation for just 40 runs. Only some attempts at lusty hitting and frantic running by Nepal, who desperately lack a middle-order power-player and improvisatory late-innings foxes took their score past 200. into a relatively satisfactory 214.

70 runs had come off the last ten, but had more runs been manufactured in the middle of the innings, then Nepal would have been able to set a really challenging total.

Prem Chaudhary

It was evident that South Africa set themselves up for a long trek to their target, their openers content to clip the ball here and there for runs, with boundaries as a bonus. Perhaps just a little over-adrenalised the ball after he had pushed a delivery from Amrit Bhattarai to the midwicket boundary, Jean Symes played an off-drive a little earlier than he would like and fell to a smart catch by Prem Chaudhary at mid-off, diving forward.

It was now all a question of when Nepal would introduce their spinners, for that was where the match would be won and lost. As a fielding team, Nepal would be the first to admit they lack some strong arms in the outfield and that’s been a significant difference between them and their opponents.

Even with the occasional short ball that was dispatched to the boundary, from the 14th over onwards, Raj Shrestha, Ratan Rauniyar and Basant Regmi put the brakes on South Africa and three wickets fell in the space of five overs for the addition of just nine runs. There may have been the occasional loose delivery but they beat the bat enough times to disconcert the batsmen, Regmi in particular finding huge lift and turn off a length. By the time South Africa had reached the mid-way point, their required run-rate had gone beyond five an over.

South Africa captain
Dean Elgar

Game on.

Nepal started to believe that they could beat a senior-nation, just as they had done in previous U-19 World Cups.

What South Africa needed were partnerships and an enterprising fifth-wicket stand between Dean Elgar and Romano Ramoo raised African hopes but with ten overs left 76 runs were still wanted. Of cheeky singles there were a few but of boundaries there were none. Elgar’s pull to midwicket in the 44th over was the first shot to cross the ropes in twenty overs. He edged into the keeper’s gloves when on 33, a potentially costly miss.

With five overs remaining, South Africa wanted 46. Elgar reached 50 off 54 balls. Four overs left, 38 wanted. Elgar hit the first ball of Basant Regmi’s comeback over into the leaping hands of long-on and saw the ball inches in front of the rope for four. Three overs left, 31 wanted. Ramoo started to find the boundary: a four and a six which bounced back off the sightscreen. The 100-partnership. Twelve balls left, 16 wanted.

Ramoo, moments before his stumping.

Two wides off the next delivery. 14 runs, still 12 balls remaining. Three balls later Ramoo was stumped. 6 balls left, 10 runs wanted, the ball in Paras Khadka’s hand. Nepal just had the edge again.

Off the penultimate ball, Craig Kieswetter was dropped at long-on by Rauniyar - two runs. A tie would have been good enough to see South Africa through. Last ball, two for the tie. Three for the win. Khadka steps up as does Kieswetter. Khadka fielded the drive. Nepal had won.

Nepal’s captain, an ecstatic Kanishka Chaugai said afterwards, “It was good we lost to Zimbabwe by two runs earlier, we knew hat we had to do this time. We have kept up our record of beating a Test-team in each of our World Cups and this time we think we can make it two.”

Nepal take on New Zealand in the Plate Championship Final on the 18th.

Plate Championship Semi-Final 2: Nepal v South Africa, Nondescripts Cricket Club, Colombo
Nepal won the toss and batted.
Nepal: 214 for 8 off 50 overs (K. Chaugai 59, G. Malla 46*; M. Sibuto 4-47, J. Symes 3-15)
South Africa: 212 for 5 off 50 overs (P. Daneel 32, B. Thompson 31, D. Elgar 66*, R. Ramoo 38; B. Regmi 3-31)
Man of the Match: Kanishka Chaugai (Nepal)
View Scorecard >>

Filed February 17 2006