Nepal meet the Netherlands in final todayThe hosts showed their domination in the Tri-Nation T20I Series, thumping the Dutch side by nine wickets in their first meeting but were undone when the visitors chased down Nepal’s second-highest total.
Hosts Nepal faces an acid test when they take on the Netherlands in the final match of the Tri-Nation T20I Series on Saturday.
The Netherlands are a boosted side after they shadowed Nepal's second-highest T20I total in their second meeting chasing down a target of 207 and inflicted the hosts their first defeat. It was also the Netherlands' highest successful T20I run chase in their cricket history, which had previously managed 193 while chasing a 189-run target against Ireland in 2014. Nepal's previous biggest total of 236 runs came against Bhutan in the 2019 South Asian Games.
The group winners thrashed the Dutch side by nine wickets in their first meeting, followed by another comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Malaysia. But their one-sided reign in the tournament—their first international cricket match after more than a year due to Covid-19 pandemic—came to a crashing end despite a big total after succumbing to a three-wicket defeat.
The shock defeat was a wake-up call to the hosts, who welcome the same opponents at the TU cricket ground in the decider. Malaysia bowed out of the series without a win.
Nepal conceded 47 runs against the Netherlands in the last fifteen balls in the innings. Sandeep Lamichhane chucked 48 runs overall while Karan KC bowled too many back of length delivery even in the last over. Abinash Bohara conceded 19 runs in the 19th over.
The leg-spinner Lamichhane, who is playing his first T20I in the country, has 11 wickets in his name this series.
Skipper Gyanendra Malla feels that the hosts definitely need to improve in that department and avoid such give-aways if they are to win the trophy.
"We have to minimise damage control in the wicket. We have to stop boundaries," he said. "But our fielding is strong."
For the two consecutive matches, the hosts' openers never left too much for the middle order batsmen thanks to an indisputable partnership between debutants Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh who shared a record 119-run between them for the first wicket against the Netherlands and a century-stand against Malaysia next.
Bhurtel's 62 runs in the defeat against the Netherlands was his third straight half-century. Sheikh was out for a duck but shared a 73-run partnership with Malla for the second wicket in the final group match.
However, Nepal lacked aggression in the batting line-up in the final overs.
"The bowlers come with a plan in the final overs. But boundaries and sixes always remain a target of the last two strikes. We are well aware of that and will try to score more than 10 runs in the last over," said Malla.
"For that, we need to avoid back-to-back fall of wickets especially in the middle order and keep more batsmen for the final three overs. We need to finish strong in the final overs," he added.
"It is always good to be the winning side, and land an international trophy."
The Netherlands batsmen are also in top form. Five top Dutch batsmen could turn the match in their favour.
Bas de Leede led the fierce fightback against Nepal with his three fours and two sixes coming in the final nine balls. His unbeaten 81 was supported by Ben Cooper, who shared a 68-run stand for the third wicket with de Leede in their historic chase.
The final overs drama was given a boost by the Dutch captain Pieter Seelaar hitting three sixes in a row in the 18th over.
Opener Max O'Dowd is another player to watch. He was not out 133 in their 15-run win over Malaysia.