Abu Dhabi: Sharad Vesawkar’s three sixes in five balls steered Nepal to a five-wicket win over hosts the UAE in the third-place play-off in the ICC Twenty20 qualifiers at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium on Saturday.
Much credit goes to the Nepal bowlers, who restricted the UAE to 131, especially left-arm spinner Basant Regmi, who finished with figures of 4-0-16-4.
It looked like the UAE were in control after medium-pacer Amjad Javed bowled a superb 17th over, conceding just three runs and also took a wicket of Binod Bandari. Nepal needed 33 from 18 balls with five wickets in hand and Vesawkar going strong on 23.
The youngster hammered a six in Manjula Guruge’s final over and scored 11 runs to swing the tide in favour of Nepal, who needed 12 from the last six balls.
By then, the UAE skipper Khurram Khan had exhausted all his medium pace options and had to fall back on his ace spinner Shadeep Silva. That was exactly what Vesawkar was waiting for. He hoisted Silva’s first delivery straight over his head for a six and then pulled the second one over mid-on to finish the game in style with four balls to spare. Vesawkar’s unbeaten 43 came from just 29 balls.
Skipper Paras Khadka was all praise for his team. “It was a fantastic achievement by the boys,” he said. “Vesawkar has been doing well all through the tournament and has been scoring the winning runs for us. Anil Mandal also gave him good company towards the end.”
Khadka added that his team was looking forward to ‘moving into another level’ now that they have qualified for the World T20.
Put in to bat, the UAE sent in Javed to do some pitch hitting along with Abdul Shakoor, who came in in place of Mohammed Azam. Unlike in the previous outings, Nepal were a bit sloppy on the field and both UAE openers, capitalising on missed catches, managed to make a slow but steady start until Regmi was brought into the attack.
Regmi did not allow the UAE innings to bloom with a double strike in the fifth over. While Javed (14) was clean-bowled, skipper Khan (1) chopped one on to his stumps. From 28 for two, the UAE managed to reach 65 for 2 after 11 overs and it was mainly due to the thrust provided by Rohan Mustafa, who scored a 19-ball 24.
Once the UAE lost the wickets of Mustafa (24) and Shakoor (28), they were again in trouble at 72 for four after 13 overs. Had it not been for the 18-runs over off Shakti Gauchan, who was taken to task by Shaiman Anwar, the UAE would have struggled to reach a respectable total.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s Nasir Aziz has been reported for a suspected illegal bowling action under the ICC Regulations for the Review of Bowlers Reported with Suspected Illegal Bowling Actions following his side’s 62-run loss to Ireland in the second semi-final of the qualifiers on Friday.
Aziz was only recently cleared by the ICC of the same offence.
UAE 131 for five off 20 overs vs Nepal 133/5 off 19.2 overs. Nepal won by five wickets.