Airee, Sheikh bat Nepal to victoryQuick-fire half centuries from young guns Dipendra Singh Airee and Aarif Sheikh on Saturday eked out a 19-run win over Malaysia and kept Nepal’s slim hopes of earning a berth in the ACC Asia Cup still alive.
Quick-fire half centuries from young guns Dipendra Singh Airee and Aarif Sheikh on Saturday eked out a 19-run win over Malaysia and kept Nepal’s slim hopes of earning a berth in the ACC Asia Cup still alive.
In a rain-curtailed 30-over match at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Nepal scored 189 thanks largely to late onslaught from the 25-year-old Airee and 21-year-old Sheikh after the established stars likes skipper Paras Khadka and his deputy Malla failed with the bat once again. Nepali bowlers backed up the batting efforts by restricting Malaysia for 169-9.
With only the champions of the six-team qualifying tournament assured of a berth in the Asia Cup, Nepal’s chances of rounding up a top two finish and set up title clash appears extremely bleak after suffering back-to-back defeats against Oman and Malaysia. The best they can do is to win the remaining two matches and hope combination of other results go in their favour. The champions of the Qualifier will join world cricketing powerhouses India and Pakistan in Group ‘A’ of Asia Cup slated for September 16-28 in the UAE.
Batting first, Nepal were in dire strait losing their top five batsmen—Anil Shah (16), Subash Khakurel (9), Malla (11), Khadka (13) and Sagar Pun (0)—to be reeling at 60-5 by the 13th over. However, Airee and Sheikh made the mockery of the Malaysian bowling, who had been thorn in the eyes for the Nepali batsmen earlier, by playing shots at ease. The duo put on a massive 101-run sixth wicket stand in just 88 deliveries to bring Nepal back into contention.
Airee slammed six fours and a six in his 51-ball knock, while Sheikh was even more aggressive, scoring unbeaten 64. His 48-ball knock included five fours and two sixes. Syazrul Idrus and Sharvin Muniandy were pick of the Malaysian bowlers with three wickets each. Malaysia appeared to be coasting towards with at 65-1 by the 10th over before spinners Sandeep Lamichhane and Basanta Regmi stemmed the flow of runs.
Opener Anwar Arudin and No 5 batsman Syed Aziz top scored for Malaysia with 34 runs each. Arudin struck three fours and two sixes in his 40-ball knock while Aziz also hit three fours and two sixes in 25 balls. Ahmed Faiz (22), Virandeep Singh (21) and Muhamad Syahadat (16) all chipped in to the Malaysian total but they eventually fall short of the victory target. Regmi finished with figures of 3-36, while Lamichanne returned with a miserly 2-20 and Sompal Kami 2-39 for Nepal. Man-of-the-match Airee also took one wicket.
In other matches of the day, Oman beat Singapore by eight wickets and Hong Kong hammered United Arab Emirates by 182 runs. Despite the victory Nepal stay in fifth place with two points. Nepal play Singapore on Sunday before taking on table-topper Oman two days later.
Nepal 188-7 in 30 overs (A Sheikh 64*, DS Airee 54; S Idrus 3-27, S Muniandy 3-50) beat Malaysia 169-9 in 30 overs (S Aziz 34, A Arudin 34; B Regmi 3-36, S Lamichhane 2-20, S Kami 2-39) by 19 runs
Man-of-the-match: DS Airee
Team M W L NR Pts NRR
Oman 3 3 0 0 6 0.92
Hong Kong 3 2 1 0 4 1.57
UAE 3 2 1 0 4 0.75
Malaysia 3 1 2 0 2 0.07
Nepal 3 1 2 0 2 -0.55
Singapore 3 0 3 0 0 -3.09