Nepal maintained their domination in the ICC League 2 triangular ODI series at home with a comfortable nine-wicket win over Papua New Guinea on Monday.
Spinner Sandeep Lamichhane picked up his third ODI five-wicket haul as Nepal bowled out PNG for 95 runs in 32 overs at the TU Cricket Ground. The home team raced to 100-1 in just 7.4 overs to stretch their win streak to five matches.
Openers Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Bhurtel started Nepal’s chase at a brisk pace, adding 51 runs in just 3.3 overs. Bhurtel made 33 runs off 14 balls with the help of four fours and two sixes before falling lbw to Chad Soper in the fourth over.
Sheikh carried on to his eighth ODI half-century and remained unbeaten on 53. He faced 21 balls and hit eight fours and three sixes. Kushal Malla remained 12 not out with a four and a six.
This is Nepal’s biggest victory in terms of wickets, bettering the previous eight-wicket win against the USA in 2020. It follows a day after the team recorded their biggest winning margin in terms of runs against the UAE, taking their tally to 38 points, one adrift of third-placed Namibia, from 35 games.
A win against the UAE in the last match of the series on Thursday will give Nepal a direct berth in the World Cup Qualifier as the top three sides alongside Scotland and Oman.
PNG came under early pressure after home captain Rohit Paudel won the toss and put them in to bat.
They lost Kiplin Doriga for two, bowled by Lalit Rajbanshi in the fourth over and Sompal Kami removed another opener Hiri Hiri for 14 runs.
Lamichhane, opening his spell in the 14th over the innings, gave Nepal the third success when he bowled Sese Bau for 18 runs.
With spinners on the attack from both ends, Nepal tightened the screw on the visitors.
PNG captain Assad Vala, while trying to take an attack to the Nepali bowlers, holed out to Rajbanshi off the bowling of Lamichhane for 20 runs.
The visitors were reduced to 79-6 when they lost two wickets in the space of three balls. Riley Hekure was caught and bowled by Rajbanshi for four in the 22.5 overs and Lamichhane picked his third wicket in Charles Amini (17).
Any chances of PNG revival ended in the 27th over when Kushal Malla removed Norman Bhanuwa for a duck.
Hila Vare fell to Lamichhane after making seven and Kabua Morea to Malla for one. Lamichhane completed the haul, bowling Semo Kamiya in the last ball of his spell, giving away just 25 runs in 10 overs.
He has joined Karan KC as the only Nepali bowlers to take five wickets three times. Lamichhane had earlier taken six wickets each against the USA in 2020 and Papua New Guinea in 2021.