Nepal snatch Plate in thriller
Nepal 205 for 9 (Regmi 66) beat New Zealand 204 (Astle 66, Regmi 3 for 41) by one wicket
Nepal pulled off a thrilling one-wicket win in the Plate final against New Zealand, with two balls to spare after they appeared to be dead and buried at 75 for 6. Basant Regmi was the hero with an incredible allround performance, hitting a sparkling 66 off 74 balls to follow his 3 for 41.
However, he wasn't alone in the amazing finish as Ratan Rauniyar showed his batting prowess after Nepal had started the final ten overs needing 70 to win. When Rauniyar carved the winning boundary backward of square it sparked scenes of wild celebrations as all of the Nepal players and staff sprinted on to the field.
They had reached the Plate final in 2002 but lost to Zimbabwe; this time they pulled it off ... and in amazing circumstances. Shock results have been like London buses in this tournament: it may have taken 38 matches for the first - when Nepal downed South Africa - but then another came along almost straight away.
Roy Dias, Nepal's Sri Lankan coach, could hardly contain his joy: "After the 2002 final it is just great that we have got across the line - for the players and the country. People will celebrate a lot because it is very important for Nepal. We have beaten two Test-playing nations and that's a great achievement for the youngsters as they can now believe in themselves."
Dias added that he never thought the target was out of reach: "I knew we had batsmen lower down the order and we just needed a partnership. Even with one wicket left we only need a run-a-ball plus the odd boundary."
The captain, Kanishka Chaugai was equally thrilled: "It's a big achievement for me because, for a lot of this side, it is the last time we will play Under-19 cricket and to take home some silverware from the Plate is amazing."
Chasing targets has been Nepal's problem in this tournament and they again appeared to be caving in under the pressure. After a promising opening stand of 36, wickets tumbled at regular intervals as the Kiwis tightened the noose. But Nepal hadn't got to this stage of the tournament without having some real fight - and now they showed it in grand style.
Firstly, Regmi in partnership with Prem Chaudhary began to fray some nerves in the New Zealand camp. Still, though, it was hard to think that Nepal could turn the game on its head, especially when Chaudhary and Sashi Kesari, the Supersub, fell in quick succession to leave them floundering at 148 for 8.
Regmi, however, refused to give in and encouraged Rauniyar to hang in there with him. New Zealand tried all they could to separate the pair, but slowly the pressure began to tell. Fielders started letting boundaries through their legs and the tension was showing as the final overs came into view.
With four overs to go they needed 34; by the last it was down to nine. The Kiwis were rattled, so much so that they conceded a no-ball in the final over because they didn't have four fielders inside the circle. That was the moment they finally cracked - with the next ball Nepal secured an astonishing victory.
All the New Zealanders could do was stand with hands on hips. They certainly hadn't been at their best in this match, but this was a bitter pill to swallow. Their batting had scraped to 204 thanks to Todd Astle's 66 then the bowlers, especially Hamish Bennett, performed their roles with aplomb for at least 35 overs. However, they have learnt - and in the harshest possible way - that there is never a time to relax.
Colin Munro had seemingly settled any early nerves in the field with two early wickets as Nepal began their chase, and some useful spin bowling meant New Zealand had one hand on the Plate. However, it was only the loosest of grips and the trophy was snatched from their grasp by a Nepal side that has been one of the stars in this World Cup. If tomorrow's Super League final lives up to this it will be some match.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo