Paudel, Jora star as Nepal bow out with convincing UAE win

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - Put into bat first after losing the toss, Nepal had a disastrous start losing opener Rit Gautam in the very first ball of their innings. 

Rohit Kumar Paudel scored a half-century as Nepal eased to a 160-run win over the United Arab Emirates in their third and final group game of the ACC U-19 Asia Cup in Colombo on Tuesday.

Paudel hit 67 and received good support from other middle-order batsmen to post a massive 285-9 at FTZ Sports Complex in Katunayake. Sandeep Jhora scored 48 and Asif Sheikh contributed 45 to help swell the team's total. Despite the victory, Nepal crashed out of the tournament finishing third in Group 'B' with two points. Bangladesh and hosts Sri Lanka qualified for the semi-finals from the group. Banglashed topped the group with six points after defeating Sri Lanka by 42 runs on Tuesday. Sri Lanka finished second with four points.

Put into bat first after losing the toss, Nepal had a disastrous start losing opener Rit Gautam in the very first ball of their innings. Gautam's opening partner Pawan Sarraf also fell for a duck in the fourth over leaving Nepal reeling at 8-2. However, Paudel and Sheikh resurrected the Nepali innings putting on 71 runs for the third wicket. After Meiyappan had Sheikh caught by Muhammad Farazuddin in the 19th over, Paudel and Jora added another 85 runs for the fifth wicket to consolidate the Nepali position.

By the time Sanchit Sharma dismissed Paudel in the 33rd over, Nepal were already in a strong position. Kusal Malla also chipped in a valuable 22 runs late on. But it was the big-hitting Kamal Singh Airee and Rashid Khan, whose partnership pushed Nepal to a commanding total. Airee hit five boundaries and two sixes in his blistering 26-ball 41 while Khan made run-a-ball 44 with five boundaries and a six. Airee and Khan added 70 runs for the eighth-wicket. Sharma was the pick of the UAE bowlers with figures of 3-26 off 10 overs. Akasha Tahir also snared three wickets but conceded 62 runs.

Nepali bowlers never allowed the UAE batsmen to settle in by taking wickets at regular intervals. Vriitya Aravind top-scored for the UAE with 28 runs. Sagar Dhakal took three wickets while Khan, Surya Tamang and Sarraf grabbing two scalps each for Nepal.

Despite the victory, Nepal coach Binod Das said his team was still not up to their mark in batting. “We recovered well after a poor start thanks to a good partnership between Sheikh and Paudel. The tailenders contributed heavily but we cannot rely on them in the long run,” said Das. “We need our [recognised] batsmen to convert their 50s into 100s and that is the particular area we need to improve on,” he added. Das said the bowlers did a good job on Tuesday by putting the UAE batsmen under pressure and preventing them from scoring freely.

Overall, Das believed his team put on a good performance throughout the tournament. He also stressed on the need to provide more opportunities for the team and play more matches. “If this bunch of players gets more opportunities to play more matches on good wickets, I can guarantee they can take Nepal to greater heights,” he said.

Nepal had started the tournament with a five-wicket loss against Sri Lanka before losing a thrilling second match against Bangladesh by six wickets. Bangladesh were made to bat until the 50th over to chase down the big Nepali total.

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