Oman clash exposes Nepal’s batting woesThe Rhinos suffer a 13-run defeat in their opening match of the US Triangular Series of the ICC World Cup League 2.
Nepal's batting woes were exposed against leaders Oman in their opening match of US Triangular Series of the ICC World Cup League 2 when they succumbed to a 13-run defeat in Houston, Texas, on Thursday.
Nepal were bowled out for 198 runs with two balls to spare as Oman, who chose to bat first after winning the toss, posted 211-8 at the flat wicket of the Moosa Cricket Stadium in Pearland.
Nepal will play their second match against hosts US on Saturday at the same venue. The second leg against Oman is scheduled for June 14 and the US on the following day.
Nepal kept Oman under tight marking with the ball and restricted them to 55-4 at a moment before an all-round performance by captain Zeeshan Maqsood rescued them. He not only anchored Oman innings with a crucial century but also dismissed three key batters of Nepal.
Middle order batter Aarif Sheikh contributed 66 runs for Nepal, the highest of the innings, while medium pacer Karan KC grabbed five wickets. But KC’s impressive figure with the ball could not help Nepal pull off a likely victory due to under par batting performance and a sluggish innings.
"It was a batting failure that we could not chase the (easy) target despite having the knowledge about conditions and pitch. If we cannot chase 212 runs, it is a complete batting failure. We would rather not put the blame game on a single player," Nepal's captain Sandeep Lamichhane said after the game. "We missed winning opportunities twice against the US and once against Oman in the League 2… these games could have made a huge change in the standings."
"We cannot make the same excuse time and again. We have a lot of talented players in the squad and if we could only play to half of our potential, the result would definitely have been different," he added.
Nepal required 22 runs from the last two overs with two wickets on hand. But they lost captain Lamichhane for two runs as he was run out in the fourth delivery of the penultimate over though Nepal managed to collect eight runs.
Nepal needed 14 runs in the last over. Sheikh played dots in the first three deliveries by Bilal Khan but was trapped leg before in the next ball to lose the game.
In the absence of regular openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh who could not play due to injuries, Sunil Dhamala and Subash Khakurel—called on Monday from Nepal as backups—opened the innings. But Khakurel was dismissed for three runs and Dhamala departed for 12 runs with 2-40 on board.
Khakurel was bowled in the third over and Dhamala in the 14th over, both by captain Maqsood. Youth Dev Khanal and vice captain Rohit Paduel, the next two batters who were expected to bring much needed stability in the innings, also failed to live up to expectations. The duo departed in the space of nine runs with 4-79 runs on board.
Paudel was the next wicket to fall with 20 runs under his belt after he was caught at silly mid-on by Khawar Ali off captain Maqsood. He hit three fences in his 17-ball knock. Khanal, who hit 53-ball 34, was bowled by Khawal Ali after he attempted a reckless shot. He hit five boundaries.
"We lost wickets when we should have had a good partnership. We also threw away some wickets. We did the exact opposite of what was desperately needed," said Lamichhance.
Dipendra Singh Airee contributed 16 off 30, Binod Bhandari played a sluggish innings of 14 off 46, Karan KC 8 off 13, Sompal Kami 13 off 12, Sandeep Lamichhane ball-a-run two and Sushan Bhari was not out on zero.
"We played a lot of dot balls but that did not help us. Though we failed in the batting, there are lots of positives to draw from the game like the five wicket haul of KC and Sheikh's innings. If we make a bit of improvement in the next game, we would definitely win the match," said Lamichhane.
Oman's left arm spinner Maqsood and leg spinner Khawas Ali grabbed three wickets each. Maqsood conceded 37 runs in his 10-over spell and Ali gave away 47 runs.
Earlier, Nepal made a solid start with the ball as openers Kashyap Prajapati and Jatinder Singh were both trapped leg before by pacer Karan KC with 2-26 on board. While Prajapati was out for a duck in the very first delivery, Singh was dismissed in the seventh over.
They kept Oman under pressure claiming wickets on a regular interval. Shoaib Khan was the next wicket to fall as he was caught behind by Bhandari in a delivery by Lamichhane and number four batter Mohammad Nadeem was bowled for one run, again by Nepal captain with 55-4 on board.
But Oman Maqsood staged the fightback with an unbeaten 104 off 126. It was his second One-Day International (ODI) century after scoring 109 runs against the US in 2020 February during a League 2 match in Kathmandu. He cracked 12 fences. Khawar Ali contributed 62-ball 30 that included three fences and Suraj Kumar scored 12 off 14.
"The way Maqsood played was one of the best innings I have ever seen," Lamichhane said of his counterpart.
Pacer KC conceded 38 runs in his 10-over bowling. Lamichhane collected two wickets conceding 44 runs in his 10-over spell with a maiden over.
The defeat left Nepal unchanged in the sixth position in the seven-team standings with 12 points from 13 matches. Runaway leaders Oman have 42 points from 34 matches. The US are fourth on 20 points from 21 matches.
The top three teams at the end of the Series will directly qualify for the 2023 World Cup Qualifiers in June and July and top five teams will retain the ODI status. The bottom four will have to go through a playoff involving six teams for a place in Qualifiers.