Hosts Bangladesh reached the semi-final of the U19 World Cup after they defeated Nepal by six wickets at Dhaka in the first quarter-final.
Nepal skipper Raju Rijal won the toss and opted to bat first but that decision seemed to backfire straight away as they lost two wickets in quick succession to be 19-2. However, Raju Rijal settled the ship a bit with some superb batting as he scored 72 off 80 balls with the help of eight fours and one six.
A few other Nepali batsmen chipped in with scores in the early 20s but no one could emulate Rijal’s knock, meaning that Nepal managed a competitive but not daunting total of 211.
In reply, Bangladesh started off confidently but then got into trouble as Sunil Dhamala took a couple of wickets to leave the hosts 98-4.
However, wicketkeeper Zakir Hasan and skipper Mehedi Hasan ensured there were no more setbacks as they put together a 117-run stand to take Bangladesh over the line.
Mehedi was named the man of the match for his 55 off 65 balls, but paid due credit to Zakir, who outscored him with a 77-ball 75. “Really happy, credit to Zakir for coming up with an excellent knock,” said the Bangladesh skipper. “The plan was to play for the singles and rotate strike, and it worked. The wicket was good, but a few balls turned as well. This win is great for the country.”
Rijal, meanwhile, was left to rue the way his side kept on losing wickets despite him holding up one end for most of the innings. “We lost a clutch of wickets after 25 overs, which resulted in us losing 25-30 runs with the bat.”
Bangladesh will now face the winner of the quarter-final between England and Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, India take on Namibia on Saturday. India’s win may bring a potential Pakistan-India semi-final all the closer.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2016.