Nepal set up semis date with Kuwait

Kathmandu : Sandeep Lamichhane shone with both bat and bowl as Nepal defeated Qatar by 68 runs and fixed the semi-final clash against Kuwait at ACC Men’s Premier Cup on Thursday.

Nepal remained unbeaten to the top of Group A with seven points from four matches. Runner-up Oman set up a semis date with the Group B winner the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Kuwait defeated Hong Kong by 30 runs at Mulpani Cricket Ground to advance into the knockout round finishing runner-up in Group B.

The semifinal clash between host Nepal and Kuwait will be held at Kirtipur while Oman will meet the UAE in another semi-final at Mulpani on Saturday.

Spinner Lamichhane picked five wickets to dismiss visitors Qatar for paltry 89 runs in 25.1 overs. Earlier, he batted his career-best 42 runs to catapult Nepal from 111-9 to a respectable total of 157 runs in 40.3 overs.

He was declared player of the match for his all-around performance. He put on a 46-run partnership with Lalit Rajbanshi for the last wicket. Rajbanshi (17-ball 1) played second fiddle to Lamichhane before being trapped lbw as a last wicket.

Lamichhane said he came to bat in a critical situation. “It is all about a story of bat and bowl and remembering basics of the cricket. We focused on sticking in the crease as there are enough overs remaining.”

“We are on the bad side earlier as a team. But we made a great comeback. Our team has flexibility. Any player can bat from any order. We have been working hard and I am happy with the contribution of Rajbanshi today,” Lamichhane said.

Zaheer Ibrahim and Khurram Shahzad scored the highest 15 runs while Amir Farooq added 14 runs for Qatar. Lamichhane completed with a figure of 5-14 in his spell off 9.1 overs. He also bowled three maiden overs.

Sompal Kami grabbed three wickets and Lalit Rajbanshi contributed two wickets to Nepal’s unbeaten streak in the group stage.

After being invited to bat first, Nepal struggled with the bat as Qatar bowled out the host for a medium score. Lamichhane hit six boundaries to score 42 off 58 balls. Skipper Rohit Paudel collected 27 runs off 36 balls and Opener Aasif Sheikh hit 19 runs off 27 balls. Sompal Kami (11), Aarif Sheikh (11) and Dipendra Singh Airee (12) were other double-digit scorers for Nepal.

Amir Farooq picked four wickets and Owais Ahmed claimed three wickets to restrict Nepal to a low score. At Mulpani, Kuwait packed up Hong Kong for 242 runs in 50 overs. Shahrukh Quddus claimed three wickets while Yasin Patel grabbed two wickets to send Kuwait to the semifinal.

Skipper and Nizakat Khan smashed the highest 60 runs off 97 balls for Hong Kong. Middle-order Aizaz Khan hit 49 runs off 55 balls and Yasim Murtaza scored 43 runs off 43 balls for Hong Kong.

Earlier, Kuwait scored 272 runs with the loss of eight wickets in 50 overs match.

The middle order Shiraz Khan smashed the highest 67 runs off 95 balls while Usman Patel hit a half-century off 48 balls and opener Adnan Idress collected 45 runs off 45 balls to help Kuwait score a challenging total.

Ehsan Khan was the pick of the bowler for Hong Kong with three wickets.