Nepali cricketers enter the ground during their ICC World Cricket League Division Two final match against the United Arab Emirates at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek, Namibia on Thursday. Photo Courtesy: Raman Shiwakoti
KATHMANDU, Feb 16: A blistering century by skipper Paras Khadka went in vain as Nepal lost the final playoff match against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by seven runs in Windhoek, Namibia on Thursday. Khadka completed the third List-A century of his career, staying unbeaten on 112 runs facing 103 deliveries. He smashed three boundaries and eight sixes.
Nepal enters the Group B of ICC World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe from March 4. Nepal will kick-off the competition against host team Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. The rest of the teams in the group are Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland. The UAE is seeded with West Indies, the Netherlands, Ireland and Papua New Guinea in the Group A.
Nepal started its chase with 38-run partnership between openers Gyanendra Malla and Dilip Nath before the latter was dismissed for 13 runs facing 29 deliveries in the ninth over. Malla who made his best score of the tournament followed him, scoring 24 runs in the first delivery of the tenth over. Both were dismissed by Rohan Mustafa and Amir Hayat respectively.
Skipper Paras Khadka then shared a partnership of 73 runs with Dipendra Singh Airee to take Nepal’s total to 111 runs before losing the wicket of Airee for 35 runs. The leg-spinner Imran Haider broke Airee’s defense to clean bowl him. Airee faced 66 deliveries and smashed two boundaries.
Khadka was then joined by veteran middle order batsman Sharad Vesawkar. They shared a partnership of 63 runs before Vesawkar lost his wicket to Hayat, miscuing a lofted drive at mid-off region. Vesawkar scored 30 runs from 37 deliveries including three boundaries. The next batsman Aarif Sheikh shortly followed at the score of 186 with skipper running out of partner at the other end. Haider picked his second wicket of the match in his last over for the day.
Rohit Paudel scored 23 runs facing 17 deliveries, adding quick 42 runs to the total as Nepal’s total came down to the equation of 50 runs required from the last five overs with five wickets in hand. Khadka was still at the crease on 84 runs. However, Nepal lost the wicket of Rohit in the first ball of the last five overs. Nepal lost the hero of last match Karan KC three deliveries later. Hayat picked both wickets completing his 4-wicket-haul of the match. At that time, Nepal required 44 runs from 25 deliveries. Nepal lost the way as it was too late for Skipper Khadka, who was denied valuable strike at the end overs. He scored three sixes in the last over but it was not enough to save Nepal from losing the match by seven runs. Nepal finished on 270 runs for the loss of eight wickets in 50 overs.
Earlier, the UAE won the toss and elected to bat first. Opening batsman Ashfaq Ahmed smashed his maiden century for his team to power them to 277 runs at the end of 50 overs for the loss of four wickets. The right-handed batsman scored 114 runs facing 123 deliveries and smashed 10 fours and three sixes. Ashfaq started with his skipper Rohan Mustafa in a partnership of 109 runs from 144 deliveries. Mustafa made a half-century before being dismissed by veteran Regmi for the individual score of 51 runs facing 74 deliveries including seven boundaries.
The UAE wicket-keeper batsman Ghulam Shabber lost his wicket to a Sandeep Lamichhane direct-hit in the 34th over. Ghulam scored 18 runs facing 30 deliveries including a boundary. Next batsman Rameez Shahzad then remained unbeaten scoring 41 runs from 46 deliveries including a boundary and a six.
Shaiman Anwar, who replaced Ashfaq Ahmed, scored a quick fire 40 runs in 24 deliveries that included two fours and three sixes to power UAE total to 277 runs during the end overs. Sompal Kami, Basant Regmi and Sandeep Lamichhane picked up a wicket each in the innings. The joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament finished with 17 wickets to his name including a five-wicket-haul. Omani left-arm pacer Bilal Khan picked up same number of wickets in the division two.
Nepal had defeated Namibia, Kenya, the UAE and Canada to finish on top of the division two points table. Similarly, the runner-ups UAE defeated Kenya, Namibia and Oman but lost to Nepal and Canada to qualify for the final playoff match on Thursday.