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ACC U-19 Asia Cup : Nepal celebrate maiden entry into semi-finals

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Kathmandu :

Two days after registering a historic win over Test giants India, Nepal on Tuesday booked a semi-final spot, for the first time, in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

Considered one of the two minnows in a pool that included two-time defending champions India, settled Test side Bangladesh and Malaysia, Nepal finished runners up in Group ‘B’ to go through at the expense of their nearest South Asian rivals. 

 On the last day of the league stage, Nepal hammered Malaysia by eight wickets on the back of a five-wicket haul from leg spinning sensation Sandeep Lamichhane.

Nepal’s maiden entry into  the semi-finals, however, was ensured after the junior Tigers beat India by eight wickets to send the defending champions out from the group stage. 

Bangladesh remained unbeaten to go through as group winners.

Nepal’s best result in age group cricket until now had been in the 2016 U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh when they had reached the quarter-finals. 

They had also sealed a place in the Super Six of 2000 World Cup. 

In their previous three appearances in the Asia Cup, Nepal had been knocked out from the group stage.

The result in the group stage was a complete turnaround for the Nepali team that had put on a mediocre performance in July’s ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers for Asia Region, even against lowly ranked teams and capitulated to Afghanistan, losing a spot in next year’s junior World Cup. 

Nepali senior team skipper Paras Khadka said Nepal should be happy with the result but must not get carried away. 

“The result is fabulous considering how we fared in the World Cup Qualifiers. The team has taken big stride in terms of individual and team display. They have been playing together for six months and the entire team and the coaching staff have put in a lot of hard work,” Khadka told the Post. 

“But we have to take a look at the bigger picture. A lot of players from this squad will not be in the team but they don’t know what is going to be next for them. After this tournament (U-19 Asia Cup), the junior boys will not be able to play any competitive tournament for the next one and a half years. We have to cash in on these achievements and put them in a proper system to ensure they get proper grooming,” added Khadka.

The U-19 coach Binod Das has been part of Nepal’s glorious history in U-19 World Cup where his side stunned Test giants like Pakistan along with Bangladesh in 2002. 

Das, who now holds the peculiar record of beating Test giants as a player and coach, was excited. 

“It feels great to have reached the semi-finals with a wonderful performance. We have been performing consistently throughout the tournament. Our hard work is finally paying off,” said Das whose side will meet their long-time nemesis Afghanistan in the semi-finals on Friday.

Published : 15 November 2017 , 11 : 42 am