Nepal celebrated their qualification for the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 on Thursday thanks to a thrilling 7-run triumph over UAE in the final match of the Asia Regional Qualifier, thereby sealing their place in next year’s showpiece global event in Sri Lanka.
Both teams had enjoyed comprehensive victories en route to the final match, but it was the young stars of Nepal that came out on top in Ajman to claim the solitary spot open to Asian teams through the regional qualification pathway, earning their first appearance at the U19 Men’s World Cup since 2016.
The dramatic tie saw both teams wrestle for control throughout before Nepal snatched victory thanks to a stunning penultimate over hattrick from left-arm spinner Dipesh Kandel.
Batting first, Nepal made a stuttering start, losing three wickets early to UAE’s frontline bowlers. Captain Dev Khanal (51 from 84 balls) came to the crease under pressure but stabilised the team in the middle overs before the UAE bowlers, including the impressive Dhruv Parashar (three wickets for 18), fought back once more to bowl the visitors out for 191.
UAE’s opening batters made a solid start in reply, but soon lost three wickets of their own in quick succession, including captain Aayan Khan. Ethan D’Souza (50 from 66 balls) steadied the ship with a measured half-century and looked to have set the foundations for victory, before Kandel returned to storm through the lower order batters, securing a famous victory with a hattrick in the 49th over to skittle UAE for 184.
Kandel earned the Player of the Match Award for his heroics, with figures of five for 31 from his ten overs.
Victory sees Nepal become the twelfth team to confirm their spot at the event, alongside 11 nations that automatically qualified by virtue of being the best-placed Full Member teams from the previous edition in 2022 when India claimed the trophy in the West Indies.
Speaking following the match, Nepal Head Coach, Jagat Bahadur Tamara, said, “It felt as though we were twenty runs short when we finished our innings, but we clawed this back thanks to our excellent bowling and fielding.
“Today’s victory caps a hugely successful Qualifier for us. We have come up against a lot of talented cricketers during the past week, but for us to win having gone through the event undefeated highlights the wealth of talent we possess within this team.
“We worked incredibly hard in the build-up to the Qualifier to give ourselves the best possible chance of securing a place at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024, and we are excited by the prospect of coming up against the strongest teams and the best young players in the world in Sri Lanka next year.”
The ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 will see the world’s most exciting young talent take to the field, and the event has a rich legacy of forging the future stars of the men’s game. The fifteenth edition of the tournament sees it return to Sri Lanka for the first time since 2006.
With four further Regional Qualifiers to follow in the coming months, attention now turns to the East Asia Pacific Region, where seven teams head to Australia aiming to be the next team to confirm their passage through to the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, including previous qualifiers Fiji, Japan, PNG and New Zealand.
Remaining Qualifying Events for the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024
EAP Regional Qualifier, 12-21 June 2023, Australia. Competing Teams: Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, PNG, Samoa, Vanuatu
Africa Regional Qualifier, 23-29 July 2023, Tanzania. Competing Teams: Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda
Europe Regional Qualifier, 6-12 August, Netherlands. Competing Teams: Guernsey, Italy, Jersey, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland
Americas Regional Qualifier, 11-17 August, Canada. Competing Teams: Argentina, Bermuda, Canada, Suriname, USA
ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 Qualification Structure
16 teams will be competing at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Sri Lanka 2024 over 41 matches. 11 teams have automatically qualified for the event as the best-placed Full Member nations from the previous event in 2022. These are Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe.
The remaining five spots will be determined through regional qualification pathways, with one team from each region securing a place at the event.
Americas and EAP each host one qualifying event in 2023, with the winner of each event sealing a spot at the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Sri Lanka 2024.
The Africa, Asia and Europe regions each have a two-step qualification structure. These regions hosted Division 2 Qualifiers in 2022 to determine the teams that will compete in the second and final qualifying event, the Regional Qualifier, with events taking place in 2023.
Only the winning teams from the Regional Qualifiers will qualify to compete at the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Sri Lanka 2024.