Left-arm spinner Basant Regmi took five wickets for the second consecutive match against USA to catapult Nepal to an eight-wicket win in the 2012 ICC WCL Division Four championship match on Monday at Kinrara Academy Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Just three days after Regmi took 5 for 35 in a 32-run win over USA, he claimed 5 for 20 to help bowl out USA for 145 before Nepal chased the runs for the loss of two wickets in 28 overs. Not only was Regmi named Man of the Match, but he also walked away with the award for Player of the Tournament after taking a tournament-best 21 wickets in six matches at an average of 6.66 and an economy rate of 2.80.
“Mentally we thought we had some momentum going into the game from our win against Singapore yesterday but the end result was something different,” USA vice-captain Sushil Nadkarni said after the match. “I think it’s a combination of tiredness as well as the ability to play good spin bowling. I think the Nepal guys are good spinners and the guys in our team, some of them are more used to playing fast bowling than spin.”
USA won the toss and batted first on a day that was overcast to start with but turned clear and sunny as the match wore on. Nepal fielded an unchanged lineup from the win over USA in the group stage while USA made three changes to their starting eleven from Sunday’s win over Singapore. Aditya Thyagarajan was out injured while Andy Mohammed and Akeem Dodson were subbed out in favor of Aditya Mishra, Orlando Baker and Abhimanyu Rajp.
USA’s best partnership of the day went for just 39 runs as they looked tired and overmatched against Nepal’s fresh and energetic fielding unit. Steven Taylor opened the batting with Mishra but just as he did on Friday, Taylor fell in the fifth over to Sanjam Regmi, this time playing onto his stumps for 11 to make it 16 for 1.
Despite the fact that he was the only player in the USA squad who had yet to face a single delivery in a match on tour, off-spinner Rajp was bizarrely sent in to bat at number three. He lasted just six deliveries before edging medium pacer Binod Das behind to wicketkeeper Subash Khakurel for a duck to make it 17 for 2.
Nadkarni arrived and has he has done all tour long provided some stability to proceedings and built up a steady partnership with Mishra. They added 39 runs for the third wicket but just when it appeared they were steering USA out of trouble, Mishra skipped down the track and lofted Basant to Pradeep Airee at long off to go for 28. Steve Massiah came in and departed without scoring when he spooned a catch to Amrit Bhattarai at mid off to give Paras Khadka a wicket at 57 for 4 in 19 overs.
Baker entered and the veteran knuckled down with Nadkarni to grind out runs against the Nepal spin attack which was making excellent use of a turning track. They added 26 together before Nadkarni got out in uncharacteristic fashion, pulling left arm spinner Shakti Gauchan to Bhattarai at deep square leg for 39 to make it 83 for 5 in the 28th over. Nadkarni finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with 238 runs in five matches at an average of 47.60.
Timroy Allen joined Baker and the two built a methodical partnership to take USA to 98 for 5 when the batting power play was taken to start the 36th. Allen cracked the fourth ball of the over for a boundary, USA’s first since the 24th over, but on the very next delivery he was hit on the back leg in front of the stumps and given LBW for 10 to make it 104 for 6.
Ryan Corns entered at eight and fought hard with Baker to extend the USA innings through all 50 overs. He added 33 runs for the seventh wicket with Baker before driving Basant to Gyanendra Malla at cover to leave for 9 and make it 137 for 7. Two balls later, Baker tried to flick a short ball through the leg side and sent a leading edge back to Basant for 39 to put USA at 138 for 8 in 45 overs.
Basant removed Elmore Hutchinson for 2 with his second successful LBW appeal of the day in the 47th to make it 141 for 9 and then wrapped up the innings on the first ball of the 49th by winning a third LBW decision to claim Usman Shuja for 2 with USA all out for 145. Nepal’s innings in the field was especially impressive because they conceded just one extra, a leg bye.
Nepal had a brief hiccup at the start of the chase, losing Anil Mandal for 3 when he drove Hutchinson to Massiah at cover to make it 9 for 1 in the third. Khakurel was then joined by Malla and they added 93 runs for the second wicket as Nepal cruised toward the target. Malla played a free spirited and enterprising knock, successfully connecting on numerous reverse sweeps over the off side, including one that went for six, before crashing USA’s spinners down the ground for two more sixes. He brought up his 50 in 53 balls and eventually finished with 66 before finally perishing to the reverse sweep as Muhammad Ghous knocked back leg stump to make it 102 for 2 in the 20th.
Khadka entered and took just 8.2 more overs to finish the job with Khakurel. Khadka hit the winning runs through cover to finish 25 not out and cap an undefeated run to the tournament title. They’re the first team to go 6-0 at a World Cricket League tournament since the UAE did it at Division Two in 2011.
Image (above) - Some of the more than 100 Nepal fans in attendance celebrate with the players after Nepal received the World Cricket League championship silver. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Both USA and Nepal now progress to 2013 ICC WCL Division Three in Bermuda from April 28-May 5. Denmark and Singapore stay in Division Four, which won’t be played again until 2014. Malaysia and Tanzania drop down to Division Five which is also due to be held in 2014 where they join Guernsey and Cayman Islands.
In the other playoff matches on Monday, Singapore beat Denmark in the third place game by five wickets after bowling them out for 83 at Selangor Turf Club. In the fifth place match, Malaysia beat Tanzania for the second day in a row, winning by five wickets after chasing down Tanzania’s 187.