Nepal Minute - out of the ordinary


Nepal retained their one-day international status after a 177-run drubbing of the UAE in the ICC League 2 match at the TU Cricket Ground on Sunday.

The biggest victory in their ODI history saw Nepal climb a place to fourth place in League 2 with 36 points. The Nepali win also helped the USA finish fifth and retain their ODI status ahead of the UAE with 31 points. 

The Emiratis will be tied on 35 points with the USA should they win both their remaining games. However, the USA have an edge with four wins against the UAE’s one in the head-to-head between the two sides.

The win has put the home side on course for a direct entry to the World Cup Qualifier as one of the top three finishers in the league. Wins in both the remaining matches will take ahead of Namibia, who currently hold on to third with 39 points. 

Nepal, who chose to bat first after winning the toss, recovered from a poor start to set a target of 249 runs with the help of a fifty from captain Rohit Paudel. They then skittled the Emiratis for 71 in 22.5 overs on the back of a five-for from Lalit Rajbanshi.

Paudel came to the middle at 12-2, following the early departures of openers Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Bhurtel, and scored 77 runs from 112 balls with the help of nine fours. He would win the player of the match award for the effort.

Aasif Sheikh lasted just five balls and returned to the pavilion without scoring and Bhurtel was dismissed for eight. Kushal Malla also returned early after making nine.

Paudel then began the repair job with Bhim Sarki, putting on 54 runs for the fourth wicket. After Sarki was removed by Rohan Mustafa for 29, Paudel was joined by Aarif Sheikh. They shared 86 runs the score to 162 before Paudel fell to Aayan Afzal Khan. 

Aarif Sheikh added 30 runs with Gulsan Jha for the sixth wicket before being out for 43.  Jha (36) and Dipendra Singh Airee (34) shared 48 runs for the seventh wicket to take the total to 240.

However, the hosts lost their last three wickets for eight runs to be all out for 248 in 49.2 overs. 

UAE bowlers Aayan Afzal Khan, Mustafa, Jawar Farid and Zahoor Khan all took two wickets each.  Aryan Lakra and Junaid Siddiqui took a wicket apiece.

The UAE, needing a win to retain their ODI status, were bowled out for their lowest ODI total, falling 20 runs below their previous lowest of 91 against Ireland in World Cup Qualifiers in 2018.

In sharp contrast, it was Nepal's highest ODI win, bettering their previous best of 151 runs against Papua New Guinea in 2021

The UAE struggled with the turn that spinner Rajbansi was getting out of the pitch. Opener Vriitya Aravind was bowled by Rajbanshi for a duck in the first over and Aryan Lakra, who scored consecutive fifties in the two previous matches, also met the same fate at the hands of Airee. 

Rajbansi then removed Mohammad Wasim for one and Sompal Kami got the wicket of Asif Khan for six runs to leave the UAE reeling at 8-4. 

Aayan Afzal Khan was the top scorer for the UAE with 29 runs from 33 balls as he tried to steady the UAE innings. 

However, the UAE had no respite as Sandeep Lamichhane trapped Rohan Mustafa leg before for six runs in the 14th over to return half the side with only 34 runs on the board.

Ashwanth Valthapa (14) and Karthik Meiyappan (11) were the only other batters to reach the double figures as the UAE innings soon came to an end.

Rajbanshi, replacing Karan KC in the match, returned with figures of five wickets for 20 runs with two maidens in 7.5 overs. Lamichhane took two wickets, while Sompal Kami, Jha and Airee took one wicket each.

Scotland and Oman have already booked their places in the qualifier as winners and runners-up in the league. 

Nepal will be looking for a second win over Papua New Guinea when they meet again on Monday. The home side defeated PNG by 52 runs in the opening match of the series on March 9. They play the UAE in the final match of the series on Thursday.


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