ICC- An all-round effort from both batsman and bowlers saw Nepal defend the ICC WCL Division 3 title in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia with a 62 runs win over Uganda. Nepal had defeated the same opponent a year back when they won the title for the first time.
Nepal’s top order batsman batted really well in front of some passionate Nepali fans as Nepal won the toss and batted first. There were as many as 3 half centuries, all from top three batsman; Sagar Pun (64), Gyanendra Malla (56) and Naresh Budhaayer (51) as Nepal scored 223 in 49.5 overs and then Bhuvan Karki returned figures of four for 39 to dismiss Uganda for 161 in 44.1 overs. The two sides had, on Wednesday, qualified for Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2, which will be staged in Namibia from 17 to 24 January 2015.
Uganda had some consolation when Roger Mukasa was declared player of the final following his six for 27 with the ball and 51 with the bat. The 25-year-old former Under 19 player was also adjudged player of the tournament after he aggregated 265 runs with the bat at an average of over 44 and claimed 13 wickets at just under 10.
Nepal captain Paras Khadka was elated to lift the tournament trophy. He later said: “I’m thrilled. We worked really hard for this. Now we are moving forward, and we need to continue to play good cricket. After losing the first game, we really had to pull our socks up, and I think everyone contributed, it was a team effort.
“Everyone has been pushing themselves for this event because we know it’s a pathway to ODI status, as well as the ICC Intercontinental Cup and the ICC World Cricket League Championship. We want to be there, and we are doing whatever we can from our side to get to that level, and hopefully we can make it through Division 2 to those competitions.”
Nepal coach Pubudu Dassanayake was delighted that his side had achieved its primary goal for the tournament.
“That was our target, we came to win the tournament, so I am really glad that the boys really put their best efforts in. For me now, my head is already working towards Division 2. We’ve come so close now, we really want to make it to the ICC Intercontinental Cup and ICC World Cricket League Championship.
“If you analyse the tournament, we were just improving with every game. The top order was scoring runs and I am very happy about it as that was one of the issues I had earlier in the tournament.”
Uganda captain Frank Nsubuga said he was disappointed with the result but proud of his team. “The boys have done well to get to this final. Maybe we lost the game when Roger got injured as we couldn’t get singles in overs 10 to 20 to push the game to the end.
“The boys hit form at the right time, and they have done a good job. Now we are looking forward to going to Namibia and if we win Division 2, then we will move up from there. We have the talent to do well in Division 2, and even higher, but we just don’t get as much match practice as other teams do. We need to get that experience.”
Electing to bat first after winning the toss, Pun and Budhaayer put on 107 runs in 26.2 overs for the first wicket to set the foundation for their side. Pun’s 99-ball 64 included five fours and one six, while Budhaayer hit two fours and a six in a 73-ball 51.
Following the departure of the two openers in a space of 24 runs, Malla, one of only three centurions in the tournament, held the innings together. He scored 56 off 65 balls with five fours and featured in small but useful partnerships of 28 for the third wicket with Khadka (13), 22 for the fourth wicket with Binod Bhandari (nine) and 27 for the fifth wicket with Aarif Sheikh (eight).
When Malla was dismissed by medium-pacer Mukasa in the 48th over at the score of 208, it sparked a sensational batting collapse as the last six wickets fell for 15 runs in 15 balls as the defending champion was bowled out for 223 in 49.5 overs.
Mukasa was the destroyer-in-chief, claiming an incredible six-wicket haul and conceding 27 runs in 3.5 overs in the best bowling performance of the tournament. Mukasa bagged the wickets of Mahaboob Alam, Sompal Kami and Shakti Gauchan in four balls in the 50th over, while his other scalps included Malla, Bhandari and Sheikh.
Chasing 224 for victory, Uganda openers Mukasa and Arthur Kyobe (15) batted briskly and reached 23 in 7.1 overs before a leg injury forced Mukasa to retire. As the skies started to look threatening, Uganda began to lose wickets and slipped to 92 for five before Mukasa limped back to the crease.
Mukasa went on to top-score for his side with a 52-ball knock of 51, including four fours and three sixes. He was the seventh batsman out at the score of 151, while the innings folded 10 runs later as Uganda was dismissed for 161 in 44.1 overs.
For Nepal, Bhuban Karki bagged four wickets for 39 runs, while Basant Regmi claimed two for 29 to finish as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament.
After receiving the player of the final and player of the tournament awards, Mukasa said: “I had been in really good form just before the tournament, so I hit form just at the right time.
“I was feeling the pain in my innings today but I was trying to fight for the team, but I had to go hard and do what I can do.”
In the third/fourth position place play-off, Malaysia defeated Singapore by seven wickets, while SA defeated Bermuda by 10 wickets in the fifth/sixth position play-off. Malaysia and Singapore have retained their places in the Division 3, but USA and Bermuda have been relegated to Division 4.