Kathmandu, March 16: Nepal has made it to the 2023 One-Day men’s Cricket World Cup qualifiers, with an improbable win against the UAE in front of a full-house home crowd on Thursday.
Chasing a mammoth victory target of 311 runs set by the visitors under the ICC Cricket Men’s World Cup League-2 series in TU Cricket Ground, Kirtipur, Nepal defeated the UAE by 9 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method, after the match could not be completed due to bad light.
Nepal had posted 269 runs after losing 6 wickets at the end of the 44th over when the umpires decided to call off the match citing insufficient light. With 4 wickets in hand, Nepal had to get 42 runs in the remaining 6 overs or 36 balls to win the match if overcast conditions had not intervened.
With already two batsmen down in the second over, a win for the hosts looked very unlikely. Things got worse after in-form captain Rohit Paudel departed in the penultimate ball of the 7th over, with just 37 runs on the board.
Opener Kushal Bhurtel and Bhim Sarki then steadied the innings with both scoring half centuries in a 50-run partnership in just 38 balls. Bhurtel scored a brisk 50 runs in 35 balls including 3 fours and 4 sixes. Both of them fell to Junaid Siddique, with Sarki top scoring for the home team with 67 runs in 76 balls.
Building on the foundation set by Bhurtel and Sarki, incoming batsmen Aarif Sheikh and Gulshan Jha took their team closer to the UAE total, scoring 52 and 50 runs respectively. Jha remained not out while all-rounder Dipendra Singh Airee scored 10 runs in 11 balls to register a famous win for the country.
Earlier, choosing to bat first after winning the toss, the UAE scored more than run a ball to reach 310 runs in the full quota of 50 overs at the loss of 6 wickets. Thanks to a record century in just 42 balls by Asif Khan towards the end of the first innings, the visitor posted an almost impossible target for the home side. Khan hit 11 sixes and 4 fours to score 101 runs in 42 balls. Vriitya Aravind (94) and captain Muhammad Waseem (63) were other notable contributors to the UAE total.
On the bowling side, Nepal had a hard time containing the UAE batsmen. Only Lalit Rajbansi (27 for 1/10 overs) and Dipendra Singh Aairee (19 for 2/8 overs) ended up with respectful figures while others struggled. Sandeep Lamichhane gave away a massive 80 runs in his full quota of 10 overs, taking just one wicket. Sompal Kami, Gulshan Jha and Kushal Malla went for more than 7 runs an over to give way to the huge UAE total.
For the UAE, Junaid Siddique took 3 wickets giving away 51 runs in 10 overs while Aayan Afzal Khan took 2 wickets and Zahoor Khan took one wicket, in their failed bid to stop the hosts from registering a historical win in the match also watched by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. An estimated 20,000 spectators had turned up for the final match of the series, with the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) requesting women, children and elderly to watch from the comfort of their homes, fearing the possibility of an untoward situation due to the massive turnout.
Nepal turned it upside down, winning all but one match since Indian national Monty Desai was appointed the new head coach of the national men’s cricket team. Nepal even defeated the group winners Scotland as well as the UAE, Namibia and Papua New Guinea in the last three tri-series held in the UAE and Nepal.
In the points table, Nepal ended up third just a point more than Namibia to book the ticket to Zimbabwe for the global qualifiers. After completing 36 matches played under League-2 involving 7 countries, Nepal ended third with 40 points following 19 wins and 15 loses. Scotland emerged the winner of this group with 50 points while Oman stood second with 44 points. In the process Nepal did not only qualify for the WC qualifiers but also retained its ODI status.
Nepal will now play the qualifiers in a bid to be selected for the 2023 men’s one-day cricket World Cup to be held in India in October later this year. From the League-2 series, Nepal joins League-2 leaders Scotland and runner-up Oman to Zimbabwe where they will play against South Africa, Sri Lanka, Ireland, host Zimbabwe and the Netherlands for two berths to the world cup. The qualifiers is being held from coming 18 June to 9 July.
A total of 10 teams will compete for the 2023 One-day men’s World Cup. Hosts India as well as Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan and New Zealand have already qualified for the world cup that will be held in coming October and November, 2023. (RSS)