Nepal survive USA scare to register first win in leaguePacer KC puts brakes on US batsman Holland as he threatened to take the match away from the hosts.
Nepali pacer Karan KC claimed four crucial wickets to avoid a stunning defeat to the United States as the hosts defended a modest target of 191 runs against a formidable batting lineup in the third match of the ICC World Cricket League 2 at the Tribhuvan University cricket ground in Kirtipur, on Saturday.
KC’s main scalp for the day was US batsman Ian Holland, who threatened to take the match away single-handedly even as he ran out of partners at the other end. Holland, who came to the crease when his side had lost three wickets with just nine runs on the board, scored a patient 75 off 111 balls. But that was not enough to secure a win against the hosts, backed by a full house of Nepali spectators.
Earlier, after being put to bat, Nepal did not have an ideal start themselves. With experienced batsmen Subash Khakurel (3), Gyanendra Malla (21), Dipendra Singh Airee (0), Paras Khadka (19) and Aarif Sheikh (2) dismissed with just 49 runs on the board, Nepal’s cause in the match appeared doomed.
However, debutant Kushal Malla and veteran wicket-keeper batsman Binod Bhandari rescued Nepal's innings—the pair added 84 runs for the sixth wicket. The left-handed teenager, who scored a fifty became the youngest—at an age of 15 years and 340 days—to score a half-century in one-day internationals. The record was previously held by Nepal’s Rohit Kumar Poudel, who achieved the feat when he was 16 years and 146 days old. Bhandari made 59 off 79 balls.
Chasing a target of 191 runs for the win after winning the toss, the USA found themselves in all trouble early on as they were reduced to 27-5 in 10.1 overs. Man-of-the-match Karan KC and spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane ripped apart the visitors’ top order before Ian Holland's rekindled the tourists’ hope of stealing a win. Holland, who ran out of partners, was caught behind by wicketkeeper Bhandari off KC in the 41st over. Curtains fell on the US innings on the 45th over with 155 runs on the board.
“We bowled well initially, but it was brave of Kushal [Malla] to take the match away from us. He is a good talent,” said the US skipper Netravalkar after the match. His counterpart, Gyanendra Malla was elated with the team’s win, “This victory was significant, we need to continue with the momentum.”
Nepal play Oman in their third match of the series on Sunday. Hosts Nepal had suffered an 18 run defeat against Oman in the first match of the triangular series on Wednesday.