Singapore has swept aside the more fancied Nepal in the ICC men’s T20 World Cup Asia Finals to book their spot at the global qualifier to be held in the UAE from 11 October – 3 November later this year.
After the home team won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat Indian Association Ground wicket, Singapore-born Tim David, who plays for the Perth Scorchers in Australia’s Big Bash League, followed his scores of 38 and 14 in Singapore’s other wins with 72 from 43 to help catapult the Lion City to 191/6, before Selladore Vijayakumar tore through the Nepal batting order to finish with 4/25 from his 4 overs.
Salladore finished equal second in the wicket tally for the event with 7 scalps, while Tim David, who ended up winning the batting award, was two places behind Kuwait’s skipper and player of the tournament Muhhumad Kashif for runs scored.
The Nepal innings seemed to be moving along nicely, Malla and Khadka had taken 27 from the first three over, but from the first ball of the next, the Nepal skipper tried to hit the wily medium pace of the skipper Amjad Mahboob back over the 38-year-old’s head but only managed to sky a catch to Chandramohan at mid on to send the Singapore crowd into raptures.
Despite a short period where Gyanendra Malla – aptly put by Nepal pundit Rajan Shah – seemed to unlock ‘god mode’ in scoring 39 from 21, after he became Selladore’s first victim, the Nepal batters fell in quick succession to a mix of catches taken just inside the boundary from an array of mistimed shots, a comical run out, and a stumping off a legside wide. In short, it was ugly stuff.
The catch of the match, if not tournament was taken by Janak Prakash to dismiss number three Sharad Vesawkar, shown below. Prakash launched himself into the air, and at the absolute top of his leap, the ball met his rising right palm perfectly and he pulled off a spectacular grab.
Supporting David’s innings earlier on was Singapore wicketkeeper Manpreet Singh whose 42 from 27 kept the run rate ticking along after David’s dismissal. Abinash Bohara was the only Nepalese bowler to make any headway, finishing with 4/35. In contrast, the two spinners who played a huge part in the win yesterday against Kuwait, Sandeep Lamichhane (0/34 from 3) and Basant Regmi (0/54 from 4) were played comfortably by the Singapore batters. David picked the legspinner’s variations with ease and successfully hit Sandeep out of the attack, and Regmi was let down by an uncharacteristic loss of control where a number of over pitched balls were dispatched out of the Indian Association Ground venue towards the end of the Singapore innings.
Recent efforts to secure the interim home of Singapore Cricket at the Singapore Indian Association (SIA) Ground have definitely paid off. Prior to the Asia Finals, the ground at the SIA played host to the Elite Player Series (EPS). The EPS was contested between three teams consisting of current Singaporean cricketers, Singaporean youth, and a selection of overseas players such as Ugandan Skipper, Roger Mukasa.
Singapore will now take the second Asian qualifier spot at the global qualifier after the first was handed to UAE on account of them hosting the event, a decision that has raised a few eyebrows across the cricketing community.
The question now falls to the ICC and how they will determine the replacement team for suspended Zimbabwe in the global qualifier. After falling behind Qatar in the final placings (despite being handed the runners-up medals in a lengthy post-tournament presentation) Nepal is unlikely to get another chance if the global body arranges a repechage event, which one would assume is likely to be played by the regions’ five teams who were only one place away from qualifying. If this was the case, Germany, Nigeria, Philippines*, Qatar, and the would-be third-placed team at the upcoming Americas event would be the competing teams.
However, the ICC may still make a selection by ranking, whereby Nepal’s perplexing position of 11 may yet play in their favour.
Singapore 191/6 (20 overs) Tim David 74 (43) Rohan Rangarajan 49 (33) Manpreet Singh 42 (27), Abhinash Bohara 4/35 (4) defeated Nepal 109 all out (15 overs) Gyanendra Malla 39 (21) DS Airee 23 (22), Selladore Vijayakumar 4/25 (4) Vinoth Baskaran 2/22 (4) by 82 runs.
* 30/7 corrected from Vanuatu. Philippines were second at the EAP qualifier.