Bangladesh Men’s cricket team (U-23) swept into the final of the ongoing 13th South Asian Games (SA Games) after swatting aside the host country by 44 runs in their third game in Nepal on Saturday.
Nepal’s captain Gyanendra Malla's decision of electing to bat first was partially vindicated when their former skipper Paras Khadka struck early with three dismissals inside three overs. But Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto and Afif Hossain not only halted the proceedings but also lifted the innings percectly leading their side to a challenging 155-6 in 20 overs.Nepal, in reply, were restricted to 111-9 after Bangladeshi bowlers used all their experience to the dismay of over 10,000 Nepali supporters who had thronged the stadium for the early game.
The hosts' challenge for gold medal ended with the defeat and will now play for bronze against either Bhutan or Maldives. Nepal had beaten both the teams in the league stage after losing to Sri Lanka U-23 in the tournament opener despite putting a challenging 172 on the board.
Nepal had a bright start when former skipper Paras Khadka came up with a new ball and spun through Bangladeshi defense to pick up three quick wickets. In the second over, Paras bowled opener Mohammad Naim (six) and returned in the fourth to remove experience Soumya Sarkar (six) off Karan KC at point and then bowling new man Saif Hassan.
But Shanto and Afif held firm in their match-winning 94-run partnership before with the latter being the aggressor. Afif smashed six boundaries and a six in his 28-ball 52, while Shanto struck a 60-ball 75 not out four sixes and as many fours.
Paras bowled economical in his four-over spell conceding just 15 runs. Dipendra Singh Airee also bowled four overs picking up two wickets in the last over conceding 10 runs.
Nepal had a sedate start and lost Paras (nine) in the fourth over with just 11 runs on the board. They were quickly reduced to 14-3 before Gyanendra and Dipendra tried to resurrect the innings with a 32-run partnership for the fourth wicket.Gyanendra, who was the last Nepali batsman to get dismissed top scored for the team with a run-a-ball 43 that included three fours and a six. Dipendra hit two boundaries in his 13-ball 16. Abinash Bohora (13) was the only other batsman to make runs in double figures.
Soumya Sarkar, Mahedi Hasan, Tanvir Islam and Sumon Khan took two wickets each for Bangladesh who will now compete Sri Lanka for the gold medal match on Monday. The two Test playing sides are yet to meet in the group stage game.