A record partnership between captain Rohit Paudal and opener Kushal Bhurtel saw Nepal beat Namibia by two wickets in the ICC World Cup League 2 ODI triangular series opener on Tuesday.
In the match held at the TU Cricket Ground, the two put on 133 runs for the third wicket in pursuit of a big 286-run target set by Namibia on the back of a fine century from Michael van Lingen.
Nepal chased down the highest ODI target yet, losing eight wickets n 47.4 overs. Their previous best successful chase was 244-6 in 44.4 overs against the UAE in 2019.
Paudel and Bhurtel came together at 53-2 to post the biggest-ever partnership for any wicket in Nepali ODI history, eclipsing the previous best feat of March 2022. Dipendra Singh Airee and Dev Khanal put on 129 runs for the third wicket against Papua New Guinea.
Paudel made 72 runs off 76 balls with seven fours and three sixes before offering a return catch to left-arm pacer Ruben Trumpelmann.
Nepal lost opener Asif Sheikh with only three runs on the board. He was bowled by spinner Scholtz for a duck in the fifth ball of the second over.
Bhurtel and Gyanendra Malla rebuilt the innings, adding 50 runs for the second wicket. Malla was trapped lbw by Nicol Lefty Eoton for 25 runs.
Sandeep Zora made 28 runs off 24 balls with three fours and a six to push the hosts closer to victory.
First century by Nepali opener
Bhurtel, who became the first Nepali opener to hit a century, scored 115 runs off 113 balls with 10 fours and four sixes. He holed a catch at cover, with Nepal only three runs shy of the win.
Sompal Kami hit the winning boundary to secure Nepal’s first victory against Namibia in League 2. Karan KC remained unbeaten on 20 runs off 12 balls with a four and two sixes.
Trumpelman and Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton took three wickets apiece for Namibia.
Earlier, Van Lingen cracked a fine century for the visitors, scoring 133 runs off 137 balls, laced with five sixes and nine fours after being invited to bat first.
Namibia had a stuttering start to their innings, with opener Lo-handre Louwrens being bowled for five runs by Nepali pace bowler Sompal Kami in the third over.
Sandeep Lamichhane, making his return to the national side since being accused of rape, removed the other opener, Karl Birkenstock, for 13 runs struck in the second ball of his spell.
However, Lingen and captain Gerhard Erasmus steadied the ship. The two shared a century stand, putting on 124 runs for the third wicket, leading to an imposing Namibian total. Erasmus scored 56 runs off 79 balls with two fours and three sixes.
Lingen had a reprieve at 56 when captain Paudel grounded a catch at mid-on off the bowling of Malla in the 26th over.
Kushal Malla eventually broke the partnership, getting Erasmus caught by Lamichhane in the first ball of the 37th over.
Middle-order batter Zane Green was another major contributor, making a quick-fire 34 off 19 balls with four fours and a six.
First Nepali bowler with three five-wicket hauls
Nepal’s pace bowler Karan KC took five wickets for 61 runs in his quota of 10 overs. Lamichhane picked up three wickets, giving away 66 runs.
KC has become the first Nepali bowler to claim three five-wicket hauls in the ODIs. He completed the record after getting Bernard Scholtz caught by captain Paudel in the last ball of the innings. His previous two five-wicket hauls came against Oman last June.
Lamichhane has taken five wickets in two ODI matches. The leg-spinner claimed six wickets against the USA in February 2020 and repeated the feat a year later, also taking six against Papua New Guinea. Kami became the first Nepali bowler to claim five-for in 2014 when he achieved the feat against the UAE.
It is the second-highest individual score by a Namibian batter in ODIs. JP Kotze holds that record with 136 runs against the USA in 2019.
He became the first Namibian batter to score two consecutive centuries in ODIs and third overall. Earlier, he made 121 runs also against Nepal in December.
Nepal now have 20 points from 25 matches, are sixth in the League 2 standings, a place above Papua New Guinea in the seven-team competition. Namibia are third with 37 points from 31 games, seven behind Oman with 44 points. Scotland currently lead the table with 46 points from 32 games.
Namibia meet League 2 leaders Scotland in the second match of the series at the same venue on Wednesday. Nepal next play Scotland on Friday (February 17). The USA are fourth with 35 points and the UAE fifth with 27. The top three sides qualify for the World Cup.