A half-century from Asif Sheikh guided Nepal to a three-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea in the ongoing ICC World Cup League 2 triangular ODI series on Friday.
PNG set a modest target of 180 runs after they won the toss and batted first at the Dubai International Cricket Ground in the UAE. Nepal reached the target losing seven wickets in 48 overs.
The win has taken Nepal’s tally to 30 points in 31 games, are in sixth place, with PNG rooted to the bottom with seven points in the seven-team competition.
Sheikh scored an unbeaten 86 runs off 130 balls with the help of two fours and a six. He combined well with Sandeep Lamichhane, sharing an undefeated 77 runs – Nepal’s highest partnership for the eighth wicket in ODIs – to take the team home.
The previous highest was 55 runs between Sompal Kami and Dipendra Singh Airee against Scotland in the League 2 match last week.
Lamichhane made 35 unbeaten runs and Kushal Malla contributed 23 runs.
For PNG, captain Asad Vala took three wickets, while Simo Kamia and Sese Bau both claimed two wickets each.
Earlier, PNG were bowled out for 179 runs in 49.2 overs after making the first use of the crease.
Toni Ura top-scored for PNG with 39 runs, while Hiri Hiri made 31, Kiplin Doriga (26), Gaudi Toka (15), Norman Vanua (14).
Sompal Kami and Dipendra Singh Airee each took two wickets, while Lamichhane, Karan KC and Kushal Malla all picked up a wicket apiece.
This is Nepal’s second win over PNG, following a four-wicket victory in their opening match of the UAE tour.
Nepal, who went down to the UAE by 68 runs on Thursday, look to redeem themselves when the two sides meet again on March 6.
League 2 winners Scotland with 50 points and Oman (44 points) have already booked their places in the World Cup qualifier, Nepal and the UAE are vying for the third spot, currently occupied by Namibia (39 points), to claim the last automatic berth.
The USA are currently in fourth place with 35 points, followed by the UAE (31) points from 30 games. Teams finishing in the top five places will retain the ODI status.
Qualification for the 2023 Cricket World Cup is still possible, but they will have to play a six-team Qualifier Play-off. The competition in Namibia will feature the bottom four teams in League 2 and Jersey and Canada, the winners of the two Challenge League groups.