Nepal score their first victory over UAE in League 2A 42-run win against the hosts in Dubai reignites the Rhinos’ hopes of a direct entry at the World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to take place in Zimbabwe in June and July this year.
Nepal pulled off a sensational 42-run victory over hosts United Arab Emirate (UAE) in the Triangular Series of the ICC World Cup League 2, reigniting hopes for a direct place in World Cup Qualifiers at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Electing to bat first, Nepal posted 229-8 on the back of a combined batting effort of its middle and lower middle order batters after losing top order batters cheaply. With the ball, the visiting side claimed the last six wickets conceding just 41 runs to bowl out the UAE for 187 runs, pulling off an unlikely victory.
Coming in to bat at number five, Bhim Sharki contributed 70 off 99, the highest of the innings and his career’s first One-Day International (ODI) half century. Dipendra Singh Airee claimed key wickets of the UAE removing both half century scorers – Asif Khan and Aryan Lakra – as Nepal defeated UAE for the first time in four encounters of League 2
The outcome meant Nepal wrapped up the series with six points with a maximum eight on offer. While Nepal defeated Papua New Guinea (PNG) in both the matches played, they had gone down to the home team by 68 runs on Thursday.
Should Nepal win all four matches in the last series of the League 2 from March 9 to 16 at Kirtipur, they could earn a direct berth for World Cup Qualifiers as third place finishers of League 2. The top three teams of the League 2 will be eligible for direct Qualifiers.
Nepal also replaced UAE in the fifth position with 32 points from as many games while UAE dropped to sixth on 31 points. PNG are languishing at the bottom of the table at nine points in a seven-team contest. The teams securing top-five finish in the seven-team League 2 are supposed to retain their ODI status for next four years although the cricket governing body, ICC, has not mentioned anything clearly about it. They could cement a top-five finish with two wins at home.
Nepal’s top order batters again failed to live up to expectations and they kept losing early wickets in quick succession and were once struggling at 68-5. Nepal opened the innings with Gyanendra Malla and Aasif Sheikh after regular opener Kushal Bhurtel was rested due to a groin injury.
But Sheikh was dismissed for six runs and Malla on 11 runs. Captain Rohit Paudel (1 run) and Dipendra Singh Airee (4 runs) also departed cheaply. Number three batter Kushal Malla offered some resistance, scoring a run-a-ball 32.
Sharki then gave a much needed stability to the innings with his 90 ball knock that included seven hits to the fence. The player-of-the-match shared a 56-run partnership each for the sixth and seventh wickets with Sandeep Lamichhane and Aarif before being bowled by Rohan Mustafa.
Lamichhane contributed 40 off 27 balls that included one hit to the boundary while Sheikh’s not out knock was studded with two boundaries and a six. Karan KC contributed an 11-ball 17 while Pratish GC, who replaced injured Bhurtel, was not out on 11 runs.
Junaid Siddique claimed three wickets, giving away 53 runs in his 10-over spell that included a maiden over. Rohan Mustafa and Aryan Lakra grabbed two wickets each.
Chasing the target, UAE lost opener Muhammad Waseem for a duck, bowled by medium pacer Sompal Kami off the second delivery of the innings. But his opening partner Asif Khan played a patient 82 run knock off 115 balls studded with two hits to the fence and three sixes. He also shared a 94 run partnership for the second wicket with Aryan Lakra who scored exactly 50 runs off 78 balls.
Airee then trapped Lakra, who smashed four hits to boundaries and a six, as the second wicket. He also caught and bowled Khan with 176-7 on board. Apart from Khan and Lakra, Vriitya Aravind was the other player to contribute in double digits, scoring a 23-ball 13.
Nepal’s allrounder Airee and Sompal Kami claimed three wickets each. Kami gave away 26 runs in his seven overs of bowling that included a maiden over. Airee conceded 18 runs in his eight overs. KC, Lamichhane and Aarif Sheikh picked up a wicket each.