Qatar stun Nepal in ICC World T20 Asia Regional QualifiersThe tournament favourites posted 122 all out in 20 overs before Qatar completed the chase with four balls to spare.
Billed as tournament favourites, Nepal stumbled to a stunning four-wicket loss against Qatar in the first match of the ICC World Twenty20 Asia Regional Qualifiers in Singapore on Tuesday.
Played at the Indian Association grounds, Nepal posted 122 all out in 20 overs before Qatar completed the chase with four balls to spare. With only the table-topper assured of a berth for the T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers in the UAE in October and November, Nepal now need to win their remaining three matches and hope for favourable results elsewhere. Apart from Nepal and Qatar, the Asia Qualifier also includes hosts Singapore, Malaysia and Kuwait.
Former skipper and the current U-19 coach Binod Das terms the defeat as collective batting failure. “Criticism is obvious whenever a team (Nepal) loses but we should also credit the way Qatar bowled. To put it simply, Nepal failed to put on a competitive total on the board. We should have at least scored 140-150 to win the game. We had a good start but other players failed with their bat,” said Das. Das was not willing to buy social media debates over “wrong team combination” for the shock defeat.
Nepal went with six specialist bowlers for the match. They also toyed with opening batting combination, this time Gyanendra Malla joining his skipper to open the proceeding. In their recent two-match T20 international series against Malaysia, Khadka had two different opening partners: Pradeep Airee and Pawan Sarraf. Despite toying with the opening combination, Nepal clean swept the series. Khadka’s inability to turn up to defend the total due to the back pain while batting on Tuesday also did not helped their cause.
“The team had been together for around two months now and the team management obviously must have come up with the best possible combination,” added Das. “For instance, a lot of people might take Sompal (Kami) and Karan (KC) as the specialist bowlers. But the team management might be taking them as allrounders.” Das said nothing has been lost yet as Nepal are yet to play three more matches and they can still earn a ticket to the Global Qualifiers.
Electing to bat first, skipper Khadka and his deputy Malla gave Nepal a flying start putting on 49 runs for the first wicket. Inam-ul-Haq broke the stand in the last ball of the sixth over, having Nepal skipper caught by Nouman Sarwar. Khadka scored 28 off 17 balls with four boundaries and a six but did not return to the field due to the back pain. Sharad Vesawkar joined Malla in the middle but their stand lasted for just eight runs as Tamoor Sajjad had the Nepal vice-captain caught by Iqbal Hussain in the ninth over. Malla made 23 off 24 balls with two fours and a six.
The two big blows exposed the Nepal batting frailties as none of the other batsmen except for Dipendra Singh Airee were able to make runs of note. Airee top scored with 34 despite helplessly watching wickets fall regularly at the other end. Airee struck a six and a four in his 35-ball knock.
Sompal Kami was their next best contributor with the bat as the bowling spearhead scored 11 off 12 deliveries. Nepal’s cause was also not helped by the fall of three consecutive wickets in the last three balls starting with the run out of Sandeep Lamichhane in the 20th over bowled by Iqbal Hussain. Hussain then dismissed Abinash Bohara and Basanta Regmi in the next two balls to contain Nepal to a low total. Hussian finished with figures of 3-21 from four overs, while Sajjad and Sarwar bagged two wickets each for Qatar.
Nepal opened the defence of their low total conceding 13 runs in the first over, bowled by Kami. Malla, who took over the captain’s armband in Khadka’s absence, brought in his trump card Lamichhane and the star leg-spinner struck first ball dismissing Faisal Javed for one run.
Qatar were reduced to 38-2 when Karan KC also struck with his first ball of the match—the fifth of the innings—to get rid of No 3 batsman Kamran Khan who was posing himself as a big threat scoring two sixes and as many four in his 15-ball 22.
Man-of-the-match Inam-ul-Haq, however, kept his cool at the other end scoring runs at ease. Lamichhane accounted for two more wickets of Muhammad Tanveer (11) and Zaheer Ibrahim (12) but by then Qatar had already closed in a three- figure mark. When Hag finally fell, courtesy a run out, Qatar were placed at 97 -5 in 13.4 overs.
Nepal tried to apply pressure on Qatar late on but Nouman Sarwar and Mohammed Rizian guided their team to finish line putting on an unbroken 25-run stand for the seventh wicket. Sarwar scored run-a-ball 15 and Rizian made 9 from 15 balls. Lamichhane returned with figures of 3-33 and KC took 1-18.
Only nett run-rate separates the top three teamsin the points table. Hosts Malaysia are on top of the standings with two pointsfrom one game. Singapore are next with the same number of points and match butQatar are in third place having played a game more. Nepal will be up againstMalaysia in their second match on Wednesday.
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