Nepal carried their winning momentum, beating Papua New Guinea by 52 runs in the opening match of the final leg of the ICC League 2 triangular ODI series.
At the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground, Nepal posted 297 runs in 49.1 overs against Papua New Guinea who put the home team in to bat after winning the toss. The visitors were bowled out for 245 runs in 47.1 overs.
Opener Asif Shaikh cracked the maiden century of his career, laying the platform for a big total for Nepal in front of home crowd.
Nepal now have consolidated their position in the league at the end of 33 games with 34 points, a point adrift of fourth-placed USA in the league.
It was Nepal’s highest total in ODIs, superseding 287 runs they made while chasing down the target against Namibia on February 14.
Earlier, Sheikh and Kushal Bhurtel gave Nepal a solid start, sharing 110 runs for the opening wicket.
Sheikh scored a run-a-ball 110 runs, hitting 12 fours and two sixes. In the process, Shiekh also became the second Nepali player after Rohit Paudel to complete 1,000 runs in ODI.
Fellow opener Bhurtel, who missed Nepal’s 42-run victory on Monday against the UAE through injury, was also among the runs. He scored 45 runs.
Bhim Sarki continued his fine form, following up on Monday’s 70 against the UAE with 44 runs. Captain Paudel also made a contribution of 30 runs.
For PNG, Semo Kamea bowled well to claim five wickets and Charles Amini took three.
Chasing 298 runs for victory, PNG made a solid start with opener Kipling Doriga and Tony Ura sharing 77 runs in 11.2 overs.
Just as PNG threatened to take away the game, Nepal managed a breakthrough. Gathering a sharp throw from Dipendra Singh Airee wicketkeeper Asif Sheikh crashed the wicket, leaving Doriga short of his ground as he tried to steal a quick single.
Doriga’s 26 runs came off 34 balls with three fours and a six. Ura went to score a half-century before falling victim to spinner Sandeep Lamichhane in the 15th over. He made 50 from 44 balls with nine fours before being caught by Arif Sheikh.
But the visiting side failed to capitalise on the foundation set by their openers.
Airee removed Sese Bau cheaply for three in the 14th over and then bowled Charles Amini for 14 runs.
Lamichhane claimed two successive PNG wickets in the 33rd over. He bowled Hiri Hiri for eight runs and removed Chad Soper, who was caught by Arif Shaikh. Then Kushal Malla dismissed captain Asad Vala for 42 runs.
Norman Vanua, who came to bat at number eight for PNG, top scored with 60 runs. Together with Riley Hekure, he raised a faint hope of PNG win as they added 41 runs for the eighth wicket. However, Lamichhane ended the partnership, removing Hekure for 20 runs.
Vanua carried on with some big shots to delay the inevitable. And the PNG innings came to an end with his run out at the start of the 48th over.
For Nepal, Lamichhane took four wickets, Airee claimed two and Kushal Malla one.
PNG will meet the UAE in the second match of the series on Friday. Nepal play the UAE on Sunday.