Semi-Final 1: Nepal v Kuwait at Tribhuvan

Sarad Vesawkar of Nepal stroking the winning run.

Nepal powered home at a canter winning by nine wickets against Kuwait. Nepal will now be in their third consecutive U-19 Cup Final. They have won their previous two Finals.

In a repeat of their 2003 encounter at this stage, Nepal again beat Kuwait but this time Kuwait can have no thoughts of ‘if only’. Rain did not prevent Kuwait from winning this match, it was their top order batsmen’s lack of big match temperament and tricky Nepali new ball attack that stopped Kuwait from putting up a competitive total.

Ratan Rauniyar of Nepal

Playing in front of the biggest crowd any of the Kuwaitis had ever faced, their innings got off to a terrible start as both openers were out by the fourth over, with only one run between them. Their captain Sibtain Raza along with Habibullah Iftikar steadied the innings somewhat but once Iftikar fell flashing one time too many a couple more wickets fell to batsmen unable to cope with the canny bowling of the Nepali seamers Bhattarai Bataju and Khadka.

The Nepal seamers had conditions to their advantage and made full use of them, intelligently moving the ball both ways off the seam. It took the introduction of SuperSub Mubassher Khalid to throw the bowlers off their stride. His first two scoring strokes were lofted drives of immense authority and his cover-driven six a few balls later had even the home crowd applauding its power.

He showed the full-face of the bat to all deliveries and though his footwork was a little fallible, he played enough forward defensives to show that he has brain to go with his brawn. He really is a sweet timer of the ball.

With Sibtain Raza playing a supporting role, these two batsmen brought Kuwait to a position where, at 112 for 6 after 33 overs, they could be thinking of a score closer to 200 than 150. The introduction of leg-spinner Shashi Kesari changed all that. With his first ball he yorked Khalid (40 off 50 balls) and two balls later had the left-handed Sibtain Raza pulling with the spin to be caught at mid-on.

The last-wicket pair played with the long-handle to boost the Kuwaitis score somewhat but a score of 146 was never likely to be enough.

And so it proved. Nepal’s top-order batsmen snuffed out any threat Kuwait’s bowlers could pose and though Yashwant Subedi fell to an excellent catch at first slip off the constantly threatening Ali Shehzad and Kanishka Chaugai had to bat with a runner, Nepal always looked in control of the match.

The 7,000 crowd seated on the grassy banks of the amphitheatre cheered every run to the very end, Nepal wrapping up the game in the 38th over. The match was broadcast live on Nepal national television.

Amrit Bhattarai and Kanishka Chaugai with the
Man of the Match Award.

Filed November 18 2005