Mahesh Chhetri and Anil Mandal played a partnership to cherish long as Nepal beat Singapore by seven wickets at Unity, Kuwait to inch closer to the semifinals of the ACC Trophy Elite 2010.The openers stood a 135-run partnership, the best ever partnership by Nepali batmen, as Nepal chased Singapore’s 216 with 40 balls remaining. The match was one the most anticipated matches of the tournament for it was thought to the decider of supremacy of the two teams after crowd trouble helped Nepal progress to World Cricket League Division 4 at expense of Singapore.
With Singapore posting a good total, Nepal needed a solid batting performance for the victory. Anil and Mahesh ensured that the solidity came as early as possible hitting half-centuries.
They made better the 130-run fourth-wicket partnership between captain Paras Khadka and Sharad Vesawkar against Fiji at TU Ground earlier this year. The best opening stand was 125 held by Mehboob Alam and Paresh Lohani against Maldives at TU Ground in 2003.
They batted 26.5 overs to ensure an impressive win. Anil, who hit his second half-century in his fifth match, got 83 off 93 balls with seven fours and a six. Man of the match Mahesh scored 87 off 111 deliveries with eight boundaries. The scores were individual best for both of them.
Paras got out in 8 in 13 balls with a four but Sharad Vesawkar (18 off 38 balls) and Dipendra Chaudhary (9 off 6 balls with two fours) completed the formality. Saad Janjua, Pramodh Raja and Philips Childs took a wicket each for Singapore.
Earlier, Singapore won the toss and elected to bat first. They started well with Chetan Suryawanshi and Buddhika Mendis adding 66 runs for first wicket. Nepali pacers – Mehboob Alam, Amrit Bhattarai and Paras – failed to get any breakthrough.
Basant Regmi gave the breakthrough as Suryawanshi gave a catch to Amrit at 32 in 15th over. Although spinners tightened the screw on scoring, they found it hard to get wicket.
Mendis made 36 off 72 balls before running himself out. Munish Arora (31 off 55) and Childs (40 off 55) continued the batting domination as Singapore raced to 143/3 in 34 overs. Nepali bowlers and fielders worked hard to get four wickets for 25 runs in next seven overs.
Janjua (29 off 22) and Dharmichand Mulewa (17 off 17) got some runs under pressure but the acceleration attempts resulted in run-outs and the innings ended at 216 in 49 overs.
The result of the match ended Singapore’s chances of proceeding as it was their third loss. With third win in as many matches, Nepal now is at the top of the table. A series of unfavorable results, including a loss against Kuwait on April 6, could only put Nepal out of semifinals.
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