ABU DHABI // Sharad Vesawkar may count Sachin Tendulkar as his all-time hero but boy does he finish a match like MS Dhoni.
He was at it again on Saturday in the 3rd place play-off against the UAE, two massive sixes off the first two balls of the last over yanking Nepal out of jail again, when they needed 11. The five-wicket win ensured third place, completing a remarkable rise (they finished 7th last year); their place at the World Twenty20 next year in Bangladesh was already assured.
Those last-over sixes were the third time in this tournament Vesawkar had finished a tight game with maximums in the last over: against Kenya earlier his three sixes came when 17 were needed; against Hong Kong, a six and a four allowed 13 to be fetched.
“There was no choice,” he said later, modestly.
“I had to play till the end as top order batsmen were getting out. It was happening for me earlier so I had that belief in me that I could do it this time as well.”
That was merely the completion of good work earlier in the field once again, Nepal having restricted the UAE to 131. That might have been a decent total, even a winnable one, especially when the pacey Kamran Shahzad was hurtling through a fierce spell across the middle overs.
Alongside Amjad Javed, who found some lovely outswing, the UAE were favourites until three overs from the end, when Nepal still needed 33.
“We thought that target was always under our control,” captain Paras Khadka said.
“In the middle overs they pulled it back a bit but we still had that belief. Sharad has been finishing matches very well for us and the belief was there.”
The UAE were left to rue an improved but still middling display with bat and in the field. They were, according to Khurram Khan, 15-20 runs short of a good total, compounded by fielding that let through another 15-20 runs. They prepare now for qualifiers in New Zealand, at the end of which lies a potential place at the 2015 50-over World Cup.
And though a place at the World Twenty20 next year is a massive achievement, Khan was disappointed with the finish to the tournament. “It is an honour to finish in the top four but by our standards I would have liked to play the final to be honest. We have set pretty high standards and are not very happy to finish fourth.”
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