Memories of 2006 inspire Nepal to another triumph over NZ
Dipendra Singh Airee's throw from the deep-extra cover boundary struck the stumps on the full, running Dale Phillips out and ending New Zealand's chase against Nepal. In the previous over, Airee had swung the match for Nepal, dismissing Nigel Smith and Talor Scott. Near the boundary line, where the reserves were standing, Nepal manager Sudeep Sharma was ecstatic.
Sudeep was elated that Airee, Nepal's finisher with the bat and ball, had closed the match out with his fielding. "Airee is a naturally talented, fit and athletic player. He is an attacking batsman who gives us cameos at No 5 or 6 and bowls good yorkers in the death overs," he said. "Today he threw down the stumps with a direct hit from the sweeper cover boundary, to finish the game."
When asked about Man-of-the-Match Raju Rijal, who had made an important 48, Sudeep said: "Oh you mean captain cool? He is a really cool captain. He bats well and missed out on a fifty today. He has been batting well for a while."
The 32-run win over a Test nation's Under-19 side was just reward for the hard work that the team had put in over the last six months, according to their manager. Part of their motivation also came from the one-wicket win over New Zealand in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup plate final.
"We were definitely aware of our last win over New Zealand," Sudeep said. "The boys were really motivated by that win in 2006. We want to keep our record intact and give respect to the boys who beat New Zealand that time. This win is just fantastic. We are really excited. We have been working very hard for the last 5-6 months. The boys did a tremendous job under coach Jagat Bahadur Tamata."
Sudeep said the team had confidence in their spinners and had felt any score above 230 could be defended. The offspinners Prem Tamang and Sunil Dhamala, left-arm spinner Sushil Kandel and legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane bowled 35 of the innings' 47.1 overs, taking four wickets for 141 runs.
The three run-outs also made a difference. Apparently coach Tamata had been less than satisfied with the side's fielding effort in the warm-up games so he had cranked up the drills in the training sessions leading up to this game.
"The coach really motivated the side for their fielding," Sudeep said. "They practised fielding a lot in the last few days. They were stopping singles and making those three run-outs.
"We knew that anything above 230 was defendable. We have a good spin attack, and we kept confidence in them. Tamang has been playing in this level for the last two years. He is an offspinner who likes to flight the ball. He also has a good quicker ball."
Nepal's next game is on January 30 against Ireland, who were trounced by India, and they are fully focused on qualifying for the second round.
"We are now focused on the next game against Ireland. We want to go match by match but if we can beat Ireland, we have a good chance to go ahead in this tournament," Sudeep said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84