Nepal beat United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the final of the ACC men’s premier cup on Tuesday, May 2 at the TU cricket ground in Kathmandu. The player of the match Gulshan Kumar Jha led the way with a match-winning 67 and bowling figures of 1-10 in his two overs. With this victory, Nepal made its first-ever Asia Cup qualification for the 2023 edition, which is scheduled to take place on September 2.
Torrential rain had forced the play to be resumed the next day as UAE began their innings at 106 for nine. Spinners Lalit Rajbanshi and Sandeep Lamicchanne dominated the first innings as they took four and two wickets respectively.
The Cricket Association of Nepal took to its official Twitter handle and announced its qualification for the Asia Cup 2023.
Asif Khan played a lone hand of 46 for UAE as they finished on 117. Although Nepal lost two early wickets, 17-year-old Gulshan Jha and Bhim Sharki kept their cool to close out the chase. After becoming an affiliate member of the ICC in 1988, Nepal participated in a top-tier International tournament when they qualified for the T20 World Cup in 2014 in Bangladesh. Since then, they have been climbing back up and will play giants like India and Pakistan at the Asia Cup 2023. Cricket is the most popular sport in the country as seen by the viral photos of fans who waited in heavy rain for the Nepal vs UAE final to resume.
Nepal will take the last spot in Group A, alongside India and Pakistan, with the Asia Cup scheduled from September 2 to September 17. 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 the five full members in the region.
Pakistan is the official host for the Asia Cup but ACC president Jay Shah has already stated that India will not travel to Pakistan. A hybrid model is being discussed but there is no conclusion yet. The exact schedule is yet to be announced because of the uncertainty over the venue.