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Nepal sealed the final spot in the Asia Cup 2023 after registering a victory against UAE in the Premier Cup final on Tuesday. With this victory, Nepal will take the last spot in Group A, alongside India and Pakistan, with the Asia Cup 2023 which is slated for September.
Gulshan Jha was promoted to the No.3 spot in the batting order, and this move proved to be a masterstroke from skipper Rohit Paudel and coach Monty Desai. The 17-year-old played an unbeaten knock of 67* to chase down 118, a target which was made tricky by the UAE's strong spin-bowling group, the pitch conditions were quite slow and it played in the favour of spinners along with this the added dimension of rain threatening in the capital proved to be another factor playing in the favour of UAE.
UAE resumed their innings on the morning of the reserve day at 106/9, and Lalit Rajbanshi continued where he left off on Monday, taking the final wicket with a left-arm orthodox of his own to finish with 4/14 (7.1). Leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane claimed 2/34 (10) at the other end, moving to a 33-ODI match streak of wicket-taking outings.
The Emiratis opted to keep quicks Zahoor Khan and Junaid Siddique at the sidelines. They turned to their spinners, starting with a 17-year-old of their own in Aayan Khan.
Aayan claimed Aasif Sheikh for just eight after his teammate Rohan Mustafa removed Kushal Bhurtel for one, and Mustafa followed up quickly by forcing a mistake from Rohit Paudel (1) chopping on to make it 22/3.
Watching two wickets fall within a span of a few overs at the other end, Jha kept and watchful eye before committing to overpitched deliveries. He launched straight and over the top for multiple sixes down the ground. He attacked Karthik Meiyappan who missed his lengths. Jha struck 14 runs in the space of just three balls in the leg-spinner over to swing momentum on their side.
With runs coming at quick intervals, the pressure eased off on the batting side. In order to find a breakthrough UAE turned to fast bowler Zahoor as their final play. But runs continued to flow in Nepal's fourth wicket partnership, as Bhim Sharki joined Jha in the middle overs.
Jha raised his bat for fifty, before sending the ball flying into the stands in Aayan's over and sending the next ball in the gap for victory. Bhim ended up on 36*, and the pair finished with an unbeaten 96-run partnership.
The top three finishes of Nepal, UAE and Oman at the Premier Cup mean they will also feature in the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup in July, where they will take on 'A' Teams of five Full Members in the region. (ANI)