A youthful-looking Indian side faced an ambitious Nepali eleven in the quarter-final stage of the Asian Games. The exuberant men in blue would be eager to impress the selectors as another World Cup draws closer in the one-day circuit. The beautiful city of Hangzhou might be unfamiliar territory in terms of playing cricket, but the match promised to be a titanic clash. The hunt for the podium continued as cricket fever reached the Chinese land.
Both sides fielded strong lineups to stake their claim for a semi-final berth.
- Yashasvi Jaiswal 2. Ruturaj Gaikwad (Cap.) 3. Tilak Varma 4. Jitesh Sharma (WK) 5. Shivam Dube 6. Rinku Singh 7. Washington Sundar 8. Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore 9. Ravi Bishnoi 10. Avesh Khan 11. Arshdeep Singh
- Kushal Bhurtel 2. Aasif Sheikh 3. Kushal Malla 4. Rohit Paudel (Cap.) 5. Dipendra Singh Airee 6. Sundeep Jora 7. Sompal Kami 8. Gulshan Jha 9. Karan KC 10. Sandeep Lamichhane 11. Abinash Bohara
India won the toss and decided to have a bat first.
Captaincy & Tactics
Indians took calculated risk early on with shots played with most of the shots played down the ground. The middle order seemed to play with a hint of caution but failed to contribute. Sending Rinku Singh in the final overs proved to be a masterstroke as the Punjabi batter hammered the ball to score a quickfire 37.
Nepali batsmen started off the blocks quickly with Bhurtel hitting regular fours. Airee and Jora had only one plan: whacking the ball with disdain as soon as it came off the bowler’s hand. They entertained the Hangzhou crowd but their inexperience showed.
Yashasvi Jaiswal has been hailed as the “next big thing” of Indian cricket for quite some time. The left-hander had more people join the hype train with a dazzling hundred. It was not only muscle power, but a rare act of grace and grit.
His pull shot is a sight to behold, he scored 18 runs from this particular shot. After Verma and debutant Sharma struggled against the slowness of the wicket, India was looking at a crucial time.
Rinku Singh is a talent to watch out for in the next few years because of his habit of finishing off games. He put an exhibition of cover drives out in the middle. His 37 runs made sure India crossed the threshold of 200.
Dipendra Singh Airee scored the fastest half-century against Mongolia earlier this week. He put Indian bowlers to the sword with a dazzling display of power hitting. Sundeep Jora was brilliant with the bat also. The pair batted with fire as the control indicator showed they had 41% control in their partnership. Karan KC hit some sixes in the final overs to rouse the crowd.
The Nepali bowlers struggled in the face of an Indian onslaught. Bohora was the worst offender with 53 from his 4 overs. Airee bowled with intelligence and accuracy and stifled the flow of runs by himself. He conceded just 31 runs and claimed double scalp to keep India within reach.
Avesh Khan’s pace created a sense of panic early on. The right arm quickly bagged 2 wickets by bowling some amazing yorkers. But Bishnoi was the star of the show. The former under-19 international opened his bag of skills and the Nepali batters had no answer to his cunning tricks. He was not afraid to toss it up with 6 deliveries in the full-length zone. He finished the day with three wickets and virtually won the game for his country.
The fielding was brilliant on an outfield that is unaccustomed to international cricket. The Nepalis were quick across the ground and saved some runs by showing athleticism. Airee completed two catches to round up a proper all-round display.
India completed eight catches to bowl Nepal out. Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore was the pick of the Indian fielders with three catches alongside his name.
Jaiswal has scored the quickest half-century in the history of IPL, the longest Test innings in terms of balls, and now the fourth quickest T-20 century for the Indian national team. The century by the Uttar Pradesh opener was complemented perfectly by a bombastic innings by Rinku Singh towards the end of the innings.
Dipendra Singh Airee was the best Indian bowler of the day and he displayed class with the bat. His boundary-infused innings of 32 installed hope into the Nepal camp. Sundeep Jora hit 3 sixes in an innings of a staggering 241.67 strike rate. But Ravi Bishnoi had the last laugh with googlies, stock balls, and leg breaks flying through the fingers. The leg spinner picked 3 for just 24 in a joyous display of spin bowling.
The partnership of Airee and Jora kept the Nepali dream alive deep into the game. The pair quickly added 45 runs from just 21 balls with sixes all around the park. Then Ravi Bishnoi tossed one up and Airee miscued the slog. The ball fell to the hands of Long eventually killing off the game.
India won the quarter-final clash by 23 runs
Player of the Match
Yashasvi Jaiswal was the unofficial man of the match for his magnificent ton.
|India Total: 202/4 (20 overs)||Nepal Total:179/9 (20 overs)|
|Y. Jaiswal 100 (49)||D.S. Airee 32 (15)|
|R. Singh 37* (15)||S. Jora 12 (29)|
|D.S. Airee 2/31||R. Bishnoi 3/24|
|S. Lamichhane 1/28||Khan 3/34|
India posted a mammoth total of 202 after Jaiswal massacred the Nepali bowling on his way to a marauding hundred. Rinku Singh provided much-needed firepower towards the end. Diprendra Airee came out with all guns blazing but the target was too big for the inexperienced men from Nepal. India secures a semi-final date in the Asian Games and Nepal continues their ascendence in the international scene with another fighting performance.