Yashasvi Jaiswal smashed a blazing hundred but a gritty Nepal stretched Indian bowling unit to its limit before losing in the quarterfinal of the men's cricket event by 23 runs at the Asian Games here on Tuesday.
Jaiswal, Indian cricket's new pin-up boy, earned the distinction of being the youngest T20I centurion from the country en route his 49-ball-100 that took India to a healthy 202 for 4 in 20 overs, foundation of their semifinal entry.
But the men from the Himalayan nation made a match of it but lack of experience became their undoing as their innings ended on 179 for 9, ensuring a last four spot for Ruturaj Gaikwad's men.
No praise would be enough for the Monty Desai coached side as the smaller ground dimensions helped them embarrass two Indian pacers Arshdeep Singh (2/43) and Avesh Khan (3/32), who gave away 75 runs in their cumulative 8 overs.
There is one piece of statistics that will certainly annoy head coach VVS Laxman. India, in all, hit 12 sixes but Nepal batters surpassed them with 14 maximums.
It was debutant left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore (1/25) and IPL star Ravi Bishnoi (3/24) who actually controlled the middle overs to save India from what could have been an upset.
The likes of Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Deependra Airee and Sundeep Jora are blessed with talent and hope the global cricket establishment gives them enough exposure to consistently challenge heavyweights like they did this day.
Against better teams like Bangladesh or Pakistan, the Indian pacers, who bowled too full or too short will be in trouble keeping the ridiculously short side boundaries into account.
But nothing can take the credit away from 21-year-old Jaiswal, who enthralled the crowd with eight fours and seven sixes.
There was slog sweep off pacers and spinners, the pick-up pull behind square, the square cuts, the heave over cow corner and the deftly executed lap shot over keeper's head to reach to 99 before a single took him to the milestone.
Credit should also be given to Rinku Singh, who once again revelled in his role as finisher with 37 off 15 balls, including 20-odd in the final over which made the difference in the end.
Brief scores: India 202/4 in 20 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 100 off 49 balls, Rinku Singh 37 not out off 15 balls, Sandeep Lamichhane 1/28, DS Airee 1/31) beat Nepal 179/9 in 20 overs (DS Airee 32 off 15 balls, Ravi Bishnoi 3/24, Avesh Khan 3/32) by 23 runs.