Nepal one win away from World Cup Qualifier after crushing Papua New GuineaThe Rhinos now need to defeat the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to finish in the all-important third position.
Nepal are one step away from completing their extraordinary march to an automatic berth in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers after they crushed Papua New Guinea by nine wickets in the final Tri-Series of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 at the TU cricket ground in Kirtipur on Monday.
The Rhinos now need to defeat the United Arab Emirates in the last match of the Tri-Series on Thursday to leapfrog Namibia and finish in the all-important third position, and progress into the Qualifiers set to take place in Zimbabwe in June and July this year.
A 10th victory in the last 11 matches gives Nepal 38 points from 35 matches, one point adrift of Namibia who currently occupy the third spot.
Sandeep Lamichhane returned match figures of 5-25 to bundle out PNG for a paltry total of 95 in 32 overs after Nepal opted to field first. It was the 22-year-old leg spinner’s third One-Day International five-wicket haul.
Lamichhane had taken 6-11 in a 151-run win over PNG at Al Amerat in Oman during an ODI Series on September 10, 2021. His career’s first ODI five-wicket haul came during an eight-wicket win over the US in the home League 2 series on February 12, 2020. He also became the second Nepali bowler, after Karan KC, to take five ODI wickets in a single innings.
Lalit Rajbanshi, whose five-for helped Nepal savage the UAE by 177 runs and retain the ODI status on Sunday, added two more wickets (2-13) to his tally, and also impressed on the field with two catches off Lamichhane to rattle the PNG batting order that saw seven batters fail to touch a double-digit score.
Kushal Malla also grabbed two wickets giving away six runs in his three-over spell.
Captain Assad Vala top-scored for PNG with 20 runs.
In the ensuing run-chase, opener Aasif Sheikh cracked the fastest ODI half-century by a Nepali cricketer as Nepal reached 100-1 in just 7.4 overs. He marked his milestone fifty with a stylish six off Soper in the last ball.
Sheikh’s unbeaten 53 came from his explosive 21-ball knock that included eight boundaries and three sixes.
Sompal Kami previously held the record for fastest ODI half-century for Nepal. Kami had set the mark when he smashed a 50 off 38 balls in the second ODI against the Netherlands at Amstelveen, the Netherlands in August, 2018.
It was also Sheikh’s eighth ODI half-century.
Sheikh’s opening partner Kushal Bhurtel made 33 runs facing 14 deliveries. He hit four fours and two sixes. Bhurtel was trapped lbw by Chad Soper.
Victory against UAE will give Nepal 40 points and a privilege to join South Africa, Sri Lanka, Ireland, hosts Zimbabwe and the Netherlands in the World Cup qualification in Zimbabwe.
Lose and the Rhinos, along with the US, the UAE and PNG, will have to take the extra road through the qualifier playoff—a repechage event to the Global Qualifier—set to take place in March and April this year. The bottom four teams of the League 2 will join Cricket World Cup Challenge League winners Canada and Jersey in the playoff, with the top two teams progressing into the Zimbabwe qualifiers.
US have confirmed their spot in the fifth position, meaning they have retained their ODI status.
UAE are currently placed sixth in the standings while PNG are seventh. They will need to finish above Canada and Jersey in the playoff to keep their ODI status.