Nepal Cricket Team have probably the largest fan followings of any associate member of the ICC. But it’s long been a bugbear of Nepal that they haven’t beaten Afghanistan since the 2004 ACC Trophy, the tournament that saw the Afghans make their debut in international cricket.
But that has all changed after Nepal completed a narrow nine run win over their Asian rivals in Chittagong.
Put into bat by Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi, Nepal lost Sagar Pun early on in their innings. The wicket of Gyanendra Malla for 22 in the 8th over with the score on 51 slowed the run scoring somewhat, and they’d only scored another 2 runs when Paras Khadka was out eight balls later.
In the past, the dismissal of Khadka would have meant that Nepal were prone to failure. Not this time.
Subask Khakurel and Sharad Vesawkar proceeded to put on 76 for the fourth wicket, the partnership ending when Khakurel was dismissed for 56 from the first ball of the 19th over. Vesawkar was out for 37 two balls later.
Nepal finished on 141-5 from their 20 overs, setting a potentially tricky target for Afghanistan given the way they batted against Bangladesh in the tournament opener.
And Afghanistan looked to be throwing away the match when they were reduced to 50-5 after nine overs. There was some resistance from Shafiqullah with 36 from 32 balls, and Afghanistan’s hopes were clinging to Asghar Stanikzai, who came in at number 7. Wickets were falling thanks to some outstanding fielding from the Nepal side.
Stanikzai helped take the match into the final over, with Afghanistan needing 24 for an unlikely win. He hit two fours from the first two balls though, but the game swung the way of Nepal when he could only manage two runs from the third ball.
Another four from the fourth ball kept the game interesting, with Stanikzai certainly capable of scoring ten in two balls to win a game. Sompal Kami bowled a full toss for the fifth ball, but Stanikzai failed to take advantage and hit the ball straight to Malla at long on. Stanikzai had made a valiant 49 from 36 balls.
A dot ball for the final ball sealed the deal, and Nepal celebrated beating Afghanistan for the first time in a long while.
For Afghanistan, it’s been a highly disappointing tournament, especially as they had high hopes of reaching the Super 10 stage having come into this on the back of an Asia Cup tournament in which they beat Bangladesh. It wasn’t to be though, and they will need to rethink their approach if they’re to succeed in the next World Twenty20 in 2016.
But Nepal were depending on Hongkong on their fate , after they dismissed Bangladesh host team just for 108 runs. But Hongkong win wasn’t enough against Bangladesh, as they failed to defeat Bangladesh in required 13.1 over, which could have opened the door for Nepal for the next round. As lots of Nepalese fan were following cricnp.com facebook page , social media tools and live broadcast in TV of Bangladesh vs Hongkong game and praying for the miracle which was possible but didn’t happen.
Scorecard : Nepal vs Afghanistan