Nepal broke the UAE jinx in the ICC League 2 with a 42-run victory in their final match of the tri-series in Dubai on Monday to stay on course to bag the last automatic berth in the World Cup Qualifier.
The first victory over the UAE in the fourth attempt saw Nepal move up a place to fifth in the standings with 32 points, one above the Emiratis at the end of 32 games.
Monday’s win means Monty Desai’s men are the only side with a chance to shift Namibia, who currently hold third place with 39 points.
The top three teams from League 2 make it straight to the World Cup Qualifier taking place in Zimbabwe from June 18 to July 9. League 2 winners Scotland and runners-up Oman have already secured their places in the qualifier.
Nepal, however, need to win all four matches in the final leg of the League 2 series beginning on March 9 at the TU Cricket Ground in Kirtipur. Two more wins will guarantee their ICC one-day international status.
Opting to bat first after the toss at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Nepal set a target of 230 runs on the back of a maiden half-century from Bhim Sarki. The UAE were bowled out for 187 runs in 46 overs.
The UAE suffered an early setback, losing their captain Muhammad Waseem for a duck in the first over.
Another opener Asif Khan and Aryan Lakra set up a solid platform for the home team. Khan top scored with 82 runs in 115 balls with the help of two fours and three sixes. Lakra made 50. But other UAE batters failed to capitalise on it, with Nepali bowlers putting pressure with tight line and length. Sompal Kami and Dipendra Singh Airee both picked up three wickets to secure Nepal’s victory.
Earlier, Nepal made 229-8 in the scheduled 50 overs on the back of a maiden half-century from Bhim Sarki.
Coming on five down, Sarki made 70 runs – his highest score in the international matches – with the help of seven fours, playing 99 balls.
Sarki and Sandeep Lamichhane shared 56 runs for the sixth wicket to rescue the team Nepal from 68-5 after 17.1 overs. Lamichhane was dismissed for 27 runs.
Arif Sheikh remained unbeaten on 43 runs off 56 balls with two fours and a six. Pratish GC played a cameo inning, scoring unbeaten 11 runs from just six balls.
Nepal made a poor start, losing opener Asif Sheikh for six runs in the fifth over. Ayan Khan took an excellent catch at short leg off the bowling of Junaid Siddique.
Kushal Malla then joined Gyanendra Malla, who was promoted in the absence of Kushal Bhurtel.
After adding 20 runs for the second wicket, just as the two appeared set for a bigger partnership, Siddiqui struck again. He trapped Gyanendra Malla leg before for 11 runs in the ninth over.
That brought skipper Rohit Paudel to the crease. But it was short-lived, as he was bowled by spinner Aryan Lakra for one run in the 12th over.
Rohan Mustafa bowled Kushal Malla for 32 runs in the 15th over. He hit four fours and two sixes, playing 32 balls. Three overs later, Nepal lost Dipendrasingh Airee when he fell lbw to Lakra.
For the UAE, Siddiqui returned with figures of 3-53 runs from his 10 overs. Mustafa and Lakra took two wickets each.