Aasif’s maiden ton gives Nepal flying startThe Rhinos post their highest ODI total of 297 runs, eclipsing their previous best of 287 set against Namibia on February 14.
Opener Aasif Sheikh slammed his maiden century as hosts Nepal saw off Papua New Guinea by 52 runs in the last Triangular Series of the ICC World Cup League 2 at the TU cricket ground in Kirtipur on Thursday.
Nepal’s total also surpassed their previous best when they accumulated 287 runs against Namibia on February 14 at the same venue.
Sent to bat first, Nepal posted a total of 297 runs losing all the wickets with five balls to spare and bowled out the visitors for 245 runs in 47.1 overs.
The fairytale run for Nepal, who have clinched eight wins out of nine ODI matches played in 2023, meant they could be just a match away from retaining their ODI status and be guaranteed of direct entry into World Cup Qualifiers. For that feat, they should win the remaining three matches.
Top five teams in the seven-team League 2 standings are expected to retain their ODI status. The league is due to end in July. For Nepal, a win over United Arab Emirates in the next match, scheduled for Sunday, will seal their top five finish. Nepal currently are fifth in the standings with 34 points from 33 matches while PNG are languishing at the bottom with nine points from as many games.
Nepal were off to a solid start as openers Sheikh scored run-a-ball 110 and Kushal Bhurtel hit 56-ball 45. The duo paired for a 110-run stand for opening wicket before Bhurtel, who smashed six hits to the fences, was caught by Tony Ura off Riley Hekure in the 19th over.
“We got a sound start and were expecting 280 plus,” captain Rohit Paudel, speaking at the post-match conference. “Aasif and Kushal played really well and the middle order was also sound.”
Sheikh reaches 1000-run milestone
Sheikh, who got two lifelines after he was dropped in the fourth and 10th over, also became the second Nepali batter to reach a milestone of 1000 ODI runs. With his 110 runs, he took his ODI run tally to 1020 from 32 innings. He slammed 12 hits to the fences and two sixes before Hekure caught him in a delivery by Semo Kamea as seventh wicket in the 46th over.
“It was a big relief to score an ODI century as I was waiting for this for the last 31 matches,” said the 21-year old. “It is a special feeling to score a century in front of the home supporters.” He was also declared the player-of-the-match.
Middle order batter Bhim Sharki contributed 44 off 38 comprising four hits to the fences. Captain Rohit Paudel was another remarkable contributor for the home team scoring 39-ball 30 that included two boundaries and a six. Aarif Sheikh contributed 15 runs and Gyanendra Malla 11 for Nepal.
Left arm pacer Semo Kamea was the pick of bowling for PNG claiming five scalps. He conceded 38 runs in his 9.1 overs bowling. Hekure grabbed three wickets in his 10-over spell conceding 50 runs.
Chasing the target, PNG opener Tony Ura and Kiplin Doriga gave a strong start sharing a 77-run stand for the first wicket. Ura hit 44-ball 50 studded with nine hits to the fences before he was dismissed as third wicket. He was caught by Aarif in Sandeep Lamichhane’s delivery.
After dismissal of Doriga, who got run out as first wicket in the 12th over, PNG kept losing the first wicket though lower middle order’s Norman Vanua and captain Assad Vala tried to launch a fightback.
Vanua hit 60 runs off 55, the highest of the innings, studded with three hits to boundaries and four sixes before getting run out. Vala, caught by Aarif in Kushal Malla’s delivery, hit 53-ball 42. Riley Hekure added 20 runs and Charels Amini 14 runs to PNG’s tally.
Nepal’s rape-accused leg spinner Lamichhane was the most successful bowler claiming four scalps. He conceded 37 runs in his 10-over bowling that included a maiden over. Dipendra Singh Airee pocketed two wickets in his 9.1-over spell conceding 37 runs.
PNG will play against UAE in the next match on Friday.