CRICKET won this time. The final of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five tournament in Kathmandu lodged in the memory for seven wickets by a 17 year-old left-arm spinner as Nepal defeated United States by five wickets. The ugly crowd scenes from the previous day were not repeated.
The attendance at Tribhuvan University, the only international-quality ground in Nepal, again swelled to at least 12,000, but the match lacked tension, with both teams safely promoted. The Americans collapsed to 172 all out as Rahul Vishvakarma took 7-15 in 8.2 overs to punish a series of wild shots.
Nepal deserved success, but the fact remains that they would probably not have qualified for promotion if the Friday match had not been suspended due to crowd hooliganism. By the time it was safe for the Americans to resume and knock off the remaining runs for victory, with rocks and bottles cleared from the outfield, four overs had been deducted under Duckworth Lewis. Though this made no difference to the result, it affected Nepal’s net run-rate. If the seven winning runs had taken seven balls, Singapore would have finished ahead. In fact the Americans faced nine balls, allowing Nepal to claim second place by the slimmest of fractions. It left a sour taste.
In the final Vishvakarma was the third left-arm spinner used as the United States made a formidable start through Orlando Baker, with 49, and the captain Steve Massiah (55). When the student switched to over the wicket, the match changed dramatically, and a score of 141 for two in the 36th over became a heap of rubble as Vishvakarma took seven wickets for three in his next five overs.
Baker was run out going for a second run, and the fun started when Massiah was held by Shakti Gauchan with a brilliant diving catch from a sliced drive. After that, further good catches were taken and everything the Americans did turned to dust. The total offered a comfortable target for the Nepalese in reply, allowing the crowd to acclaim their heroes. This time the riot police had little to do.
Jersey defeated their fellow relegated opponents Fiji in the last place play-off to finish a disappointing fifth.
Final, at Tribhuvan University:
United States 172, 47.2 overs (Steve Massiah 55, Orlando Baker 49, Rahul Vishvakarma 7-15)
Nepal 175-5, 46.5 overs (Anil Mandal 37)
Nepal won by five wickets