Host Nepal defeated the United States of America (USA) by five wickets in the final of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in front of a house-full at Tribhuvan University ground in Kathmandu on Saturday.
Nepal, set a target of 173 runs, achieved victory with five wickets and 20 balls to spare. By virtue of reaching the final, both Nepal and the USA joined Argentina, Tanzania, the Cayman Islands and host Italy in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4 to be staged from 14 to 21 August.
Elsewhere, Bahrain defeated Singapore by three wickets at the Army Ground in the third-fourth position play-off while Jersey beat Fiji by five wickets to take fifth place. Singapore and Bahrain stayed in Division 5 but Jersey and Fiji were relegated to Division 6.
After the group stage, the USA had finished on top of the table in the six-team tournament. However, on Saturday it faced a rejuvenated Nepal which put up a solid performance to the delight of its supporters which had come in great numbers to support their side.
The USA, batting first, made an excellent start to its innings with Steve Massiah (55) and Orlando Baker (49) putting on 81 runs for the second wicket to take the score to 141-2.
At that stage, Nepal’s left-arm spinner Rahul Vishvakarma produced an extraordinary spell of bowling and returned figures of 7-15 as the USA was sent crashing out for 172 after losing its last eight wickets for 31 runs.
In reply, Mahesh Chhetri (28) and Anil Mandal (37) provided Nepal an excellent opening stand of 85 runs against an erratic USA attack which conceded 20 wides during the course of the innings.
Although the USA managed to fight back and claimed five wickets in the process, Nepal never looked like losing the game and finally closed the match out with 3.2 overs to spare.
A delighted Nepal captain Paras Khadka said: “It’s a great thing for us to have won today as it is our first win as a senior side in a long time. I think the team worked really hard today and the USA just couldn’t handle Rahul’s aggressive and crafty bowling.
“It’s wonderful to take home the trophy but after some celebration the focus has to turn to this August in Italy where I hope we can be equally successful.”