BANGKOK, Feb 2: Nepal continued their brilliant performance in the ongoing ACC U-19 Elite Cup defeating Oman by 304 runs in a match of records at TGC, Bangkok, Thailand and strengthened the semifinal hope.
Nepal scored 391/4 in 50 overs after electing to bat first and bowled out Oman for just 87 in 31.5 overs for the second victory in the tournament. If Nepal defeat either Afghanistan or hosts Thailand, they will secure berth in the last four as they had thrashed the UAE by nine wickets in the opening match on Tuesday.
Nepal´s total matched the highest total at the age-group level scored against the Maldives in 2003 in Karachi, Pakistan. The highest total by any Nepali team at the international level is 397 runs against Bhutan under the captainship of Raju Khadka in the Emerging Nations Cup 2003 at the TU Cricket Ground, Kathmandu.
According to match referee Aziz Gilani, the Nepal U-19´s total on Wednesday was the highest total on the Thailand Cricket Ground by any team.
Faizrul Rahman (Faizal) Khan, who became the only third U-19 batsman after former U-19 captains Shakti Gauchan and Kaniskha Chaugai to reach the milestone, made major contribution in building a mammoth total for Nepal. Shakti had scored 100 in 2001 and Kaniskha 125 in 2003 -- both against Maldives.
Khan scored 101 in 99 balls with 10 fours. He and Subash Khakurel gave a brilliant opening stand of 81 runs before the latter fell to M Wickremaratne for 27 off 55 balls.
Khan then collaborated with Sagar Pun for a century partnership. The duo, who had produced an unbeaten 80-run partnership a day earlier against UAE, scored freely to add 110. Khan was given leg-before at 101 after a long thought by the umpire.
If Oman had hoped any relief from his wicket, they were proved wrong as Pradeep Airee joined Pun and they accelerated the scoring rate. Their partnership counted for 127 runs, the second best partnership after 137 by Yashwant Subedi and Kaniskha in 2003 against Maldives, and came in no time.
Sagar was bowled out for 83 off 80 balls by Umair Naeem and Pradeep soon followed after scoring 86 off just 40 balls with six fours and five sixes. Naresh Budayer (37 off 17 balls) and Captain Prithu Baskota (22 off 9 balls) finished the overs with a huge total.
Five runs were added to Oman´s score before they even bat as the Nepal batsmen were penalized for running down the pitch on the last ball. However, Oman were rattled by Nepali bowlers with the first wicket taken by Avinash Karn in the third over of the innings. Karn has bowled Abhishek Ramesh for three runs.
Oman lost wickets frequently. Rahul BK took three for 14 and Avinash Karn grabbed two. They lost three wickets as run-outs -- thanks to Krishna Karki. Prithu Baskota and Bhuwan Karki claimed a wicket each. Mohool Mishra (30 runs) and skipper Chirag Asher (15 runs) were the highest contributors for Oman.
“It´s a great performance,” Prithu said after the match. “It was a huge total. The opening partnership; and knocks by Sagar and Pradeep set us up.”
“Pradeep is a magnificent player and he played brilliantly today. I hope he will carry on playing like this,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nepali coach Jagat Tamata applauded Nepali batting. "We got good opening, Faizal was marvelous while Sagar contributed well. I had never seen Pradeep batting in such a fashion before. Playing shots on the ground of 70-75 m radius is simply awesome," said Tamata. "We had targeted to put up 250 to 280 runs but the batting performance took us much higher than expected," he added.
Man of the match Faizal Khan said that he would keep on scoring runs in the tournament. "After scoring 46 runs against the UAE, I had told teammates that the innings was only the beginning," said outspoken Khan. "I thought every match is important for us and I have to score runs. I succeeded to reach the milestone," he added.
Khan dedicated his century to coach Tamata as well as to Basant Shahi, Bijay Thapa, Krishni Gupta and his family.
On Friday, Nepal will lock their horns with Afghanistan in their third match.