Sheikh guides Nepal to victory over PNGThe opener scores an unbeaten 86 runs leading Nepal to three-wicket win after Nepal’s batting line up crumble.
Opener Aasif Sheikh shone with the bat as Nepal registered a hard-fought three-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea to defeat them second time in a row in the Triangular Series of the ICC World Cup League 2 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
The 21-year-old held his nerve to score an unbeaten 86 runs and single-handedly lead Nepal’s fightback after their batting line-up crumbled. He also shared a record 77-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Sandeep Lamichhane who remained unbeaten on 35 runs, the second-highest score of the team.
Winning the toss, PNG elected to bat first and were bowled out for 179 runs with four balls to spare. In the run chase, Nepal lost wickets in quick succession and were tottering at 105-7. But Lamichhane gave the much needed support to Sheikh as Nepal made 182-7 with two overs to spare with Lamichhane hitting the winning boundary.
The second victory from the third match of the series came as a big boost to Nepal’s ambition of finishing on top-five position in the seven-team League 2 contest. Top five teams are supposed to retain One-Day International (ODI) status for next four years which is due to end in July. Nepal’s top five finish will be guaranteed if they win three of the remaining five matches. Nepal are sixth in the points table with 30 points from 31 matches while PNG are languishing at the bottom of the table with seven points from as many games.
Nepal defeated PNG by four wickets on Monday before losing to UAE by 68 runs on Thursday. Nepal will wrap up the series playing against the hosts UAE on Monday.
In the run chase, Nepal lost top order batters including opener Kushal Bhrutel for a royal duck, former captain Gyanendra Malla on six runs, Bhim Sharki on eight runs, captain Rohit Paudel and Aarif Sheikh on one run each as the score read 53-5.
Dipendra Singh Airee was the next Nepali batter to be dismissed on eight runs. Kushal Malla, who came to bat at number eight, was the other Nepali batter to score in double digits (23 runs off 26) before he was caught and bowled by Sese Bau.
But Lamichhane and Aarif’s partnership proved crucial for Nepal. Aarif scored two hits to the fences and a six in his 130-ball knock. Lamichhane cracked three hits to the fences in his 50-ball knock.
Assad Vala was the pick of bowling for PNG claiming three wickets in his 10-over spell. He conceded 21 runs keeping two maiden overs. Semo Kamea and Sese Bau shared two scalps each.
Batting first, PNG opener Tony Ura scored 39 runs off 51, the highest of the innings, that included two hits to the fences and a six. Dismissed as third wicket after being caught and bowled by medium pacer Sompal Kami, Ura shared a 42-run opening stand with Kiplin Doriga, who contributed 43-ball 26.
Doriga, trapped leg before by Lamichhane in the 11th over, hit three boundaries. Hiri Hiri was the other major contributor for PNG scoring 31 runs off 63, studded with two hits to fences and a six. He was dismissed in Dipendra Singh Airee’s delivery.
Gaudi Toka, also bowled by Airee, contributed 15 runs. Norman Vanua (14 runs), Sese Bau and Assad Vala (11 runs each) were other players to manage double digit figures.
Sompal Kami and Airee grabbed two wickets each for Nepal. Kami conceded 39 runs in his 10-over bowling and Airee gave away 30 runs in as many overs that included a maiden over. Karan KC, Lamichhane and Kushal Malla shared one wicket each.