Cricket leads push for elusive medal

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Cricket led Nepal’s push for medal in style overcoming a hectic schedule caused by flight delay but Nepal’s 17th Asian Games turned from bad to worse after athletes from two disciplines were unable to participate in their respective events on Saturday.

While the men’s cricketers began with a bang crushing Kuwait by nine wickets on their way to bundling out their opponents for just 20 runs, there was a no-show in athletics and table tennis in Incheon with the players hit hard by flight delay. Players from cricket, table tennis and athletics had to stay back at the hotel in Kathmandu after their flight were cancelled for two days.

Sprinter Tilak Ram Tharu (men’s 400m) and middle distance runner Kanchhi Maya Koju (women’s 10,000m) missed their events in athletics. A jet lagged Yam Sajan Sunar returned with his worst timing of 11.43 seconds in men’s 100m. A national record holder in the event, Yam Sajan, returned with his worst performance of the year.

But against all odds, Dil Maya Karki came up with a personal best in the women’s 400m completing her race in 1:0.3 minutes. In the men’s 5000m, Hari Kumar Rimal was a distant 14th, finishing just ahead of compatriot Gopi Chandra Parki. Rimal timed 14:57.58 and Parki clocked 14:57.74 minutes.

The big delight of the day was cricket team’s sensational performance in Group ‘B’ where three wickets each from Som Pal Kami and Basanta Regmi helped Nepal bundle out Kuwait for just 20 runs in 13.2 overs. Nepal reached 21-1 in 2.5 overs after losing Pun (nine) who hit two boundaries in seven balls. Subash Khakurel (seven) and Binod Bhandari (five) were unbeaten in Nepal’s thumping victory.

Nepal will now meet Maldives in their second group stage match where a victory could possibly pit them against an experimental Afghanistan side in the quarter-finals. If Nepal win against Afghanistan — who only have skipper Mohammed Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari as the players with experience — they will play Hong Kong in the semi-finals.

Young fast bowling sensation Kami was the perfomer of the day for Nepal who picked up three wickets in his opening four-over spell giving away just four runs. Regmi returned with the figures of 3-1 from 1.2 overs, while Pun also had two scalps. The victory was made even more sensational by the way how they played in Incheon following a messed-up run up to their departure.

After two-day of flight cancellation, the Nepali team reached the Athletes Village in the morning and after a rest of couple of hours reached Yeonhui Cricket Ground to produce an easy victory. Skipper Paras Khadka had all reasons to hail his team.

“Athletes cannot seek excuses from mental and physical tiredness once they take on the field. We were eyeing a victory under any circumstances and we were able to do that,” said Paras adding the bowlers’ dominating display was the reason for the team’s successful opening.

In boxing, Minu Gurung was knocked out by her Mongolian opponent in the women’s flyweight 48-51kg bout. Prem Chaudhary lost 3-0 to Gaurav Bidhuri of India in the men’s 52kg flyweight was beaten on point.

The men’s table tennis team was disqualified from its event after the players failed to reach the venue on time due to flight delay. Only Shiva Sundar Gothe managed to reach Incheon before the scheduled event with Ajay Suwal, Purushottam Bajracharya and Amar Lal Malla failing to show up. The women’s team lost to China and India in straight sets. In the women’s basketball, Nepal lost to Mongolia 42-77 with Sneha Shrestha top scoring for the team with 15 points. Nepal has already lost 35-107 to Tajikistan and 28-104 against Hong Kong in their previous matches.

The average performance from the golfers continued with Tanka Bahadur Karki leading the Nepali pack at the 39th spot. Karki carded three-over 75 in the third round. Tashi Tshiring scored nine-over par 81 at the 52nd spot and behind him are Bishnu Prasad Sharma (54th) and Dinesh Prajapati (56th).

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• Crush Kuwait by nine wickets • Athletics, table tennis players miss events due to flight delay


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