Nepal Under-19 team handed a third consecutive defeat in India Challenger TrophySkipper Rit Gautam’s scintillating innings of 84 runs goes in vain as Nepal lose by two wickets against India ‘B’.
Nepal's Under-19 cricket team suffered a two-wicket defeat against India 'B' in their last league match at the Men's Under-19 One Day Challenger Trophy being held in the southern Indian city of Vijayawada on Friday.
India 'B', which elected to field, chased their modest target of 211 runs, losing eight wickets in 46.3 overs. The hosts, however, suffered hiccups early into the chase. Siddesh Ashok Veer (1) and Yash Vijay Dhull (6) fell cheaply, as India B found themselves tottering at 15-2 in the fourth over.
Sagar Dahiya (28) and Harsh Jamwal (29), steadied the Indian innings, but both batsmen fell in quick succession as the Nepali bowlers tightened the screws on India ‘B’, reducing them to 69-4 in the 18th over.
However, the later batsmen, Divyansh Joshi and Kruthik Krishna Setty (39) held their nerve, adding 69 runs for the fifth wicket, thereby lifting India ‘B’ out of the woods. Joshi scored a quick half-century, scoring 54 runs from 37 balls. He clobbered the Nepali bowlers for four fours and four sixes. The Indian side, however, continued to lose wickets at regular intervals after Joshi was stumped by Nepal’s wicket-keeper, Lokesh Bam off the bowling of Sher Malla. When Joshi returned to the pavilion, India ‘B’ was stranded at 131-5, still requiring 80 runs to win from the remaining 21.2 overs.
But, Atharva Ankolekar (12) and Vivek Naresh Kumar (16) chipped in when it really mattered and a quickfire unbeaten knock of 20 from Nirmal Kumar in the latter stages of the game, took India “B’ home with 3.3 overs to spare.
Akash Chand was the pick of the Nepali bowlers, with a four-wicket haul in his eight overs. Sagar Dhakal grabbed two while Kushal Malla and Sher Malla picked a wicket apiece.
Earlier, Nepal skipper Rit Gautam played a captain’s innings - scoring a swashbuckling 84 off 93 balls. His knock included 12 fours and a six. However, wickets at the other end kept falling in quick succession. Bam (5), Trit Das (2) and Bishal KC (3) were all dismissed cheaply. That left Nepal languishing at 39-3 in the tenth over. Avishek Basnet, out for a duck, was clean bowled by Divyansh Joshi.
After Basnet's departure, Gautam was joined by Hari Bahadur Chauhan (20). The pair provided some stability to Nepal as they added 53 runs for the fifth wicket, but after Chauhan fell in the 24th over with the score reading 105-5, the Nepal innings lost its way. Kushal Malla (12), in his brief stay, hit two boundaries to take Nepal's total to 134-6. But only four runs later, Gautam was caught by Vivek Kumar off the bowling of Ankolekar, that effectively, dashed hopes of a big Nepal score.
In a rearguard action, Sheer (33) and Chand (18) then added 47 runs for the seventh wicket, before Chand became the next casualty with Nepal at 185-8. With overs running out, Sheer and Gautam Khatri Chhetri (5) then fell to the Indian bowlers in trying to accelerate the scoring rate and Nepal were bowled out for 210 in 49.5 overs.
Joshi was the most successful of the Indian bowlers with three wickets, while Ankolekar grabbed two. Aaqib Khan, Vivek Kumar, Bishnoi and Nirmal Kumar got a wicket each.
As matters stand, Nepal now find themselves in the tournament at the bottom of the team standings with three losses in as many matches. India ‘B’ top the table with eight points while India ‘C’ are currently placed second with four points, ahead of India ‘A’ who also have four points, on net run rate.
Before this game, Nepal suffered a 107-run loss against India ‘A’ on Wednesday, while India ‘C’ beat Nepal by 10 wickets on Monday.