Kathmandu- What a historic day for Nepal cricket fans. Nepal has advanced to second round of ongoing U19 Cricket World Cup defeating New Zealand & Ireland in consecutive matches. The dominance of Nepal’s performance can be analyzed by the margin & nature of victories Nepal registered over junior teams of test-nation New Zealand & top associate nation Ireland.
Meanwhile, my first column for reviews against Nepal versus New Zealand featured the good, bad & ugly (which was later changed to the best) parts of the match. The win against Ireland has been near perfect to have any bad or ugliness about it. Hence, once again, improvising the sub-heads, I present you the good, the better & the best things about Nepal’s historic win over Ireland in 2nd round of group matches.
-Sunil Dhamala’s brisk start: The opener from Dhangadi has been stable feature at the top of the innings for Nepal U19 from some time now. His brisk cameo chasing the lowly total only enhanced his effectiveness. He may due a good long innings but Nepalese fans have seen enough disappointment regarding openers, Dhamala’s mini-consistency is a breath of fresh air.
-Sunar’s catching: Can’t comment on much of its acrobatic part but Sandeep Sunar catching was a treat to observe today. His close catches against all three spinners, left arm, off spin & leg spin was one of the highlight of the day.
-Convincing batting performance: Something that is not much associated with Nepal’s batting. However, this group of talented batsmen is out there to prove themselves making some useful runs at good run rates. Again, a very refreshing change from yesteryears of Nepali batting be it senior or junior cricket.
-Aarif’s all-round stability: He is an asset to this U19 team. Slowly transforming into frontline opening bowler, Aarif also bats at no.4 involving in brisk partnerships with openers, no.3 & lower order batsmen. He truly has been no less than Paras Khadka for this U19 XI. One of the most experienced player in the lineup, Aarif is doing just enough to bring a load of stability in bowling & batting department.
-Yogendra Karki’s coming off age knock: A lower order allrounder, primarily a seam bowler. Spotted first by former coach Pubudu Dassanayake in domestics as player to watch out for in future. He had loads of potential with both bowl and bat. Comes world cup, he is asked to concentrate on batting at no.3, arguably, the most important position in the batting lineup. He responds with a matured unbeaten fifty to guide his team home in a convincing manner with plenty of overs to go. He started by accumulating a load of dot balls before the lunch but came back all guns blazing ending up with 8 fours and a strike rate of 75 scoring unbeaten 61 runs. This was his maiden fifty at this level.
-Sushil ‘The Economist’ Kandel: Sushil Kandel doesn’t need introductions any more. The guy who is almost impossible to score runs against once again came in when Ireland well looking settled to make a move on. He comes in and bowls 5 maidens giving 20 runs in his 10 over spell bowled at no time. He also dismissed the Irish skipper J Tector who looked set to spend some time at crease. In a rapidly evolving era of aggressive batting, Kandel’s 3 or less than 3 runs per over in his quota of 10 overs is simply unreal consistency.
-Airee’s consistent death bowling: Continuing his merry works from last match, Dipendra Airee came very late in the innings to bowl the death overs. He was successful once again picking up 2 wickets in his spell of 7 overs conceding only 18 runs.
–Sandeep Lamichhane’s record-breaking hat-trick & 5-wicket-haul: A first hat-trick by a Nepalese bowler in ICC U19 World Cups, fourth overall by any bowler in U19 WCs. Sandeep’s record-breaking 5 wicket haul not only propelled Nepal to next round but also made sure his art will be biggest threat to other teams moving forward in the tournament. Especially teams who are not so comfortable playing against the spin.
Hat-tricks in U19 Cricket World Cup:
Kamran Islam (BAN)
Harry Conway (AUS)
Kuldeep Yadav (IND)
Sandeep Lamichhane (NEP)
-Qualified for quarter-finals with a match in hand: When the fixtures were announced, Nepal versus India was listed as matches to be telecasted by Star Sports. Not many would have expected, the last group game will be for bragging rights to finish top in the group between two already qualified teams. The sheer nature of the match makes it interesting that Nepal will be under less pressure as an underdog against multiple times champion team. With the form Nepal is in & India’s supremacy at this level makes the match mouth-watering contest than previously billed one-sided affair.