The final game of the Asian Cricket Council Under 19 Cup 2005 will take place on Saturday between Nepal and Malaysia in Tribhuban University's cricket field. In a series where 15 Asian non-test playing nations participated, Nepal reached the semi-finals after defeating Singapore by a 100 runs (223 for 9 wickets). Nepal elected to field first after winning the toss against Kuwait in the semi-finals.
Nepal's aggressive bowling stopped Kuwait at 39.1 overs for 146 runs. Kuwait's bowling was no match for the Nepali batting line up and the team made an easy 147 in 37.5 overs for just one wicket. Bowlers Amrit Bhattarai and Sashi Kesari took three wickets each and captain of the home team Kanishka Chaugai scored 78 runs. As news of the success spread, thousands of supporters gathered at the University grounds to rally their team to victory. The Nepali team now looks steadfast and ready to face the challenge that lies ahead playing against the Malaysians.
It was a good start up for Nepal when the team sent Baharain packing off in the first game with only 67 runs to their credit and stopped Brunei at just 21 runs. Nepal's bowling line up is considered among the best in the Asian junior level with the likes of Amrit Bhattarai, who is one of the major factors contributing to the success. Nepal's aggressive bowling tactic has helped the team so far but if Nepal is to really give its old foe Malaysia a tough time, it has to strengthen its batting.
Manager of the Nepali team Pradeep Karki has his hopes high and fingers crossed for the future of Nepali cricket. "A majority of the players have played in the under 15 tournaments. There is hope that these same players will one day form a successful national team." However past experiences have shown that not all buds bloom beautifully. In the Junior Cricket World Cup held in 2002 in New Zealand the Nepali team defeated Bangladesh and Pakistan and earned the name 'Giant Killer'. The very same team was unable to meet expectations later. This time around though, with a successful tournament on its way to completion, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) deserves a pat.
The winner of the ACC Cup will qualify to play the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2006 in Sri Lanka, where test playing countries will also take part.