Aasif, Malla bat Nepal to series-clinching victoryThe two batters put on a 122-run stand for the second wicket to guide Nepal to a six-wicket win over the United Arab Emirates in the third and deciding ODI.
Aasif Sheikh and Gyanendra Malla brought up a century partnership as Nepal defeated the United Arab Emirates by six wickets in the third and final One-Day International match to seal a 2-1 series win in the three-match bilateral series on Friday.
Chasing 177 at the TU cricket ground, Aasif scored an unbeaten 88, facing 119 deliveries that featured 12 boundaries and Malla cracked seven fours and three sixes in his 73-ball 64 to guide Nepal to 180-4 in 40.1 overs.
Friday marked the fifth ODI half-centuries for both Aasif and Malla. It was also Malla’s highest score in an ODI innings. Malla’s previous highest score came against Oman, also at the TU ground, when he hit 56 runs in February 2020.
Opener Arjun Saud had a dream debut in the first ODI on Monday—he scored 51 in Nepal’s 84-run loss—but his bat has been keeping quiet since. He was caught behind off Hazrat Bilal for nine runs.
But Aasif and Malla shared an eye-popping 122-run partnership for the second wicket to lead Nepal to a comprehensive win—a happy start for Rohit Paudel, who was captaining Nepal in his third match and the first series.
The stand between player-of-the-match Aasif and Malla is the record highest partnership for Nepal in ODI cricket. Earlier, Dev Khanal and Dipendra Singh Airee had played for a 129-run stand for the third wicket against Papua New Guinea in March.
The win also marked Nepal’s first bilateral ODI series victory on its home ground.
Malla was trapped lbw by Aayan Afzal Khan when 33.1 overs had been bowled. Skipper Paudel contributed 10 runs.
Earlier, sent in to bat first after losing the toss, the UAE were restricted to 176-6 after an outstanding performance from Nepali bowlers.
The UAE had a terrible start to their innings. Openers Muhammad Waseem (11) and Vriitya Aravind (0) departed early, and captain Chundangapoyil Rizwan was out for 4, with the UAE in trouble at 16 for 3, thanks to early strikes by Gulsan Jha.
Jha got to work quickly, having had both Waseem and Rizwan caught behind by wicketkeeper Aasif. Kami did more damage removing Waseem’s opening partner, Aravind, next.
Rohan Mustafa (24 off 56 balls) and Alishan Sharafu (33 off 69 balls) allowed the team score to crawl to 79 before Airee halted the progress, sending Mustafa back to the pavilion. Bhurtel bowled Sharafu soon, adding to the UAE’s misery.
The UAE then lost four batters for just 2 runs and were staring at an embarrassing defeat, reeling as they were at 93/9, but Afzal Khan rescued them.
Coming in at number eight, the 17-year-old batter, Khan, staged a late fightback with an unbeaten 54 in a 63-ball knock that included seven fours and one six and he put on an 83-run stand with Hazrat Bilal, who made 20, for the last wicket to drag the UAE to a somewhat respectable total. Afzal, the youngest player in the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, was adjudged the player-of-the-series.
It was the UAE’s highest partnership for the last wicket in an ODI match.
Jha, Airee and Bhurtel picked up two wickets each. Lalit Rajbanshi and Kami accounted for a wicket each.
Earlier, Nepal had bounced back from Monday’s loss to win the second ODI by three wickets.