The men’s Under-19 national cricket team of Nepal finally broke the shackles in the ongoing ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
The win earned them a place in the super six competition. With two defeats and one win, they finished third behind Pakistan and New Zealand.
It was a must win duel for both outfits in order to qualify for the Super Six stage. Excitement and suspense reached crescendo as fortunes of teams dramatically fluctuated all the way to the end.
The match was tantalizingly poised after Nepal lost its ninth wicket. At that point, it was anyone’s game.
The bowlers were on top of their game by bowling out Afghanistan for a paltry 145 runs just in 40.1 overs, thanks largely to Aakash Chand’s superb bowling.
The speedster in a display of pace and accuracy ripped through the opposition innings, scalping five wickets.
However, Afghanistan tailenders put in a stubborn batting performance and fought back from 43/6 and 88/8 to amass a fighting total of 145.
In the run chase, Team Nepal nearly botched the chance to win. Had it not been Dev Khanal’s valiant knock of 58 under challenging circumstances, it would have been a different story.
At long last, skipper Khanal was able to find form at the right time after going through a lean phase with the bat.
It was a fairly achievable target but inept batting almost cost them the match they should have won quite convincingly.
The match turned out to be a cliffhanger, and they had to fight for every run to grind out a laborious win at the end of the day.
To be fair, Afghanistan bowled well and agonizingly came very close to handing their team an improbable victory despite defending a meager total.
This is yet another chance for Head Coach Jagat Tamatta boys to leave an indelible mark in the tournament.
The young colts must derive inspiration from their morale boosting victory over Afghanistan and go into the next round with a winning attitude. They have to make efforts to ride the momentum as well.
Unquestionably, the round of Super Six is a big test and challenge for Nepal as they are up against quality opponents.
It requires exceptional concerted effort, all-round brilliance and a high level of consistency to beat the odds on their part.
Furthermore, they have to remain one hundred percent focused and stay confident and determined.
Given the high-stakes nature of the competition, staying on top of their game throughout is a must. And there is absolutely little room for error and mediocrity.
Batting continues to be Team Nepal’s Achilles heel. The batting average was well below in the last three matches.
The batting unit has to improve markedly going forward. Batters have to get back to the fundamentals, improve technically, commit to their shots and fully apply themselves.
They require patience, discipline, a healthy level of self-confidence and stop letting emotions get the best of them .
Likewise, the bowlers have to put in extra effort, consistently perform to their strengths to get the job done.
They have to maintain discipline, accuracy, precision and not give away too many extra runs and boundaries throughout. The fielding needs to be a notch above to save runs and put pressure on batters.
Going into the opening fixture against Asian champions Bangladesh on Wednesday, Team Nepal must maintain confidence ,enthusiasm and a winning mindset.