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Rajbanshi bowls Nepal into ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016

Left-arm spinner returned figures of 10-1-36-4 as Nepal romped to victory with three wickets and 3.4 overs to spare
Left-arm spinner Lalit Rajbanshi, opener Sunil Dhamsala and all-rounders Arif Sheikh and Dipendra Airee guided Nepal to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 when they produced sparkling performances which turned out to be the cornerstone of their side’s narrow three-wicket victory over Ireland at Kinrara Oval on Thursday.

Rajbanshi returned figures of 10-1-36-4 as Ireland was dismissed for 184 in 47 overs in the final. Dhamsala then scored 47 as Nepal romped to victory with three wickets and 3.4 overs to spare, but not before Sheikh and Airee backed up their bowling efforts with important runs with the bat.

The victory in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier means Nepal has become the 16th and final side to seal a place in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016, which will be held in Bangladesh from 22 January to 14 February. Apart from the 10 Test-playing nations, Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia and Scotland are the other sides to feature in the tournament billed as the launching pad for future stars.

For Nepal, this will be the seventh time it will participate in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. It played in six successive events from 2000 to 2012, before missing out from the previous event which was staged in 2014 in the United Arab Emirates.

On Thursday, Ireland elected to bat first but struggled against the pace and spin combination of Sheikh and Rajbanshi. While Rajbanshi was the most successful bowler, Sheikh captured three wickets for 21 runs. They were well supported by Airee, who bagged two wickets for 20 runs.

Ireland was cruising nicely at 107 for two before it collapsed against Sheikh and Rajbanshi to lose its remaining eight wickets for 77 runs. 

The collapse started when Rajbanshi accounted for opener Andrew Austin (44) to end his 76-run third-wicket partnership with Gary McClintock, who followed four runs later after scoring 45 off 58 balls with two fours and a six.

Lorcan Tucker (33) and William McClintock (20) tried to stem the rot but to no avail as Ireland failed to bat its overs, being dismissed in 47 overs.

In its run-chase, Nepal overcame middle-order hiccups to reach the target with 22 balls and three wickets to spare.

Dhamsala led the reply with a fine 47 that came off 71 balls and included six fours, while captain Raju Raijal contributed 35 from 56 balls with three fours. Airee (26) and Sheikh (21) made valuable contributions down the order to ensure they were no last-minute hassles.

Nepal’s moments of concern came when it recovered from 35 for two to reach 85 for two, before slipping to 110 for four and then to 149 for six.

Scores in brief:

FINAL- Nepal beat Ireland by three wickets at Kinrara Oval

Ireland 184 all out, 47 overs (Gary McClintock 45, Andrew Austin 44, Lorcan Tucker 33; Lalit Rajbanshi 4-36, Arif Sheikh 3-21, Dipendra Airee 2-20)

Nepal 185-7, 46.2 overs (Sunil Dhamsala 47, Raju Rijal 35, Dipendra Airee 26, Arif Sheikh 21)

3rd/4th PLACE PLAY-OFF - USA beat Uganda by five wickets at the Royal Selangor Club

Uganda 130 all out, 40.2 overs (Frank Akankwasa 25; Alex Shoff 2-16, Anup Rao 2-16)

USA 131-5, 47.2 overs (Sagar Patel 34, Alex Shoff 28 not out, Kushal Ganji 23; Derrick Bakunzi 2-17)

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