Nepal secured a berth in the final of the ACC Trophy Elite defeating Malaysia by 21 runs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

In the game reduced to 45 overs each after thick fog delayed its start in the scheduled time, Malaysian side managed to score 220 runs losing nine wickets while chasing a 242 runs target posted by Nepal.

With Malaysian Captain Suhan Kumar and Shafiq Sharif both going for big hits, the game looked much in balance while on the 36th over. However, Suhan was caught by Vice Captain Gyanendra Malla off Basanta Regmi in 37.5 over. And another two wickets by the 41st over swung the pendulum towards the Nepali side. Captain Paras Khadka who conceded must runs for Nepal was hit for three boundaries in the 40th over that took the Malaysian total to 193, requiring another 45 runs off 24 balls with four wickets remaining. However, Khadka bounced back in his next over taking a crucial wicket of Shafiq who was on 42, and was looking dangerous hitting for boundaries. This pressurised the bottom order Malaysian batsmen for big hits only to give away their wickets. Prithu Baskota took three wickets while Shakti Gauchan was accounted for two. Amrit Bhattarai, Captain Khadka, Basanta Regmi and Bhuwan Karki all took a wicket each.

Earlier, losing the toss and sent to bat first, Captain Khadka once again shone with the bat with 89 runs. Khadka hit 10 boundaries and one six in his 96-ball knock. Nepal had lost both its opener Anil Kumar Mandal (8) and Subash Khakurel (3) in 6.2 overs for just 21 runs on board. It was then Khadka stepped up to play a captain knock and stitched a 112-run third-wicket partnership with Vice Captain Malla. Malla also scored 34 runs before being run out in the 29th over. Prithu Baskota scored a quickfire 34 runs in just 21 runs in the dying overs of the Nepali inning taking Nepal’s total beyond the 200 mark. Sharad Vesawkar was the other top performer for Nepal with 37 runs. Nazril Rahman was the pick of the bowler for the Malaysian side who grabbed four wickets.

Nepal will now play against UAE in the final on Friday. UAE had thrashed Afghanistan by eight wickets before bowling them out for just 70 runs. Nepal has defeated UAE by four wickets in the group stage game of the competition.-ekantipur


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