The 2024 Men’s Under-19 World Cup has reached its conclusion for the four associate sides, with a range of success for each team.
Group Stage: vs New Zealand, lost by 64 runs.
Group Stage: vs Pakistan, lost by 7 wickets (with 14 balls remaining).
Group Stage: vs Afghanistan, won by 1 wicket (with 32 balls remaining).
Super Sixes: vs Bangladesh, lost by 5 wickets (with 148 balls remaining).
Super Sixes: vs India, lost by 132 runs.
Nepal were the most successful of the quartet by tournament results, being the only side to pass beyond the group stage, or defeat a full member. That result came against Afghanistan, in a tense, low scoring game that saw the Young Rhinos get over the line by one wicket chasing 145. Seamer Aakash Chand was star of the show, taking five wickets to bowl out the Afghans. Captain Dev Khanal led with a sturdy 57 to get Nepal close, before the tail carried the Rhinos home in dramatic fashion.
Nepal sent a squad bearing several players with senior experience, most notably Gulshan Jha, who led the bowling attack, taking six wickets. Dev Khanal, with 10 senior ODIs, topped Nepal’s run charts, with 185. Chand shared the prize of top wicket take with Subash Bhandari on 9 each.
Despite the thrilling victory, the young Rhinos were otherwise outmatched by four full member opponents. New Zealand, Bangladesh and India all took comfortable victories, and whilst Nepal dragged out their defence of 152 against Pakistan, they did not take enough wickets to mount a substantial challenge. The updated format resulted in fewer competitive games for Nepal and were denied the opportunity to play teams such as Ireland or Zimbabwe.
But Nepal may yet live to rue their success. As associate members, they are not eligible for direct qualification for the next U19 World Cup, despite their top 11 finish. Following the precent set in the last cycle, where UAE finished 9th overall but were forced to return to regional qualification, Nepal will go back a step before trying to qualify for 2026. But their victory over Afghanistan, knocking the full member out, means Nepal will be joined by the Afghans in region qualification as the lowest ranked full member. Nepal have, ironically, made requalifying harder.
If Nepal beat Afghanistan today at the men’s U19WC, and all other full members make the next stage, Afghanistan drop into regional qualifying for the 2026 WC, meaning that Nepal have a reduced chance of qualifying in 2026. (Nepal go back to regional qualifying no matter what)
— Andrew Nixon (@email@example.com) (@andrewnixon79) January 26, 2024