Nepal national cricket team’s middle order batsman Aarif Sheikh leaves the field after getting dismissed in the first match of the ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers as Oman players celebrate at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday. | Photo: Photo Courtesy/Raman Shiwakoti
KATHMANDU, Aug 29: Nepal national cricket team’s dry run against Division Three team Oman continued on Wednesday as the newest ODI nation was humbled by seven wickets in the first match of the ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Asian Cup Qualifiers played at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Nepal has lost the last four 50-over matches against Oman since 2013.
Player-of-the-match Khawar Ali stayed unbeaten on 84 runs chasing the target of 222 runs presented by Nepal after Oman won the toss and elected to bowl first. Khawar registered 6 fours and 4 sixes in his 96-ball innings. Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood smashed 3 fours and 3 sixes during his 36-ball stay contributing 45 not out runs in the match securing partnership of 77 runs with Khawar. Skipper Paras Khadka was the only wicket-taker for Nepal as Rohit Kumar Paudel and Sandeep Lamichhane enforced couple of run-outs to take three Oman wickets in the day.
The mercurial Lamichhane remained wicket-less in his 10-over spell conceding 27 runs and a maiden. Similarly, Basant Regmi was most expensive bowler for the day conceding 61 runs in his nine overs. He registered a couple of maiden overs but went wicket-less in the match.
Earlier, Sagar Pun, who made his comeback in the national team after an absence of a year, top scored for Nepal sharing a crucial partnership of 92 runs in 129 deliveries with Aarif Sheikh. Pun smashed 6 fours and 2 sixes in his 83 runs off 84 balls, his best individual score in 50-over matches for Nepal.
Similarly, Sheikh made a patient 36 runs from 74 deliveries which included 3 fours and a six. Karan KC provided a boost of 26 not out runs at the strike rate of 260 down the order to push Nepal score to 221 runs for the loss of nine wickets in 50 overs. Bilal Khan, Mohammad Nadeem and Ajay Lalcheta shared two wickets each.
Nepal skipper Khadka rued the lapses in fielding and below par bowling as prime factors for the loss. “We batted exceptionally well to post 221. We could have bowled better. We missed a couple of chances in the field,” said Khadka. “Oman batted really well. As a team we are pushing ourselves. It is not easy out there. Let’s hope we can come with a better performance against the UAE. We need to put up better batting, bowling and fielding performances in coming matches.”
Similarly, head coach Jagat Tamata expressed his feelings on below par total to be one of the main reasons of loss. “Yes, definitely we didn’t get best of starts while batting. We could have added 20 to 25 more runs. We played far too many dot balls. Our bowling wasn’t disciplined either. And we struggled to take our chances in the field,” said Tamata.
In other matches of the day, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comfortably defeated the Singapore in a match played at the UKM-YSD cricket oval in Bangi, Malaysia. Player of the match Chirag Suri smashed his first senior century for the UAE laying the foundation for a total of 312 in 50 overs for the loss of eight wickets. UAE left arm spinner Ahmed Raza then followed up with his best bowling figures of six wickets for 20 runs in senior colors to wrap up the Singapore innings for mere 97 runs in the 26th over. The UAE won the match by 215 runs currently tops the group table on net run rate.
Similarly, in the third match of the day, the host Malaysia stunned Hong Kong with a three-wicket win in the 43rd over in a match played at the Kinrara Academy Oval in Kuala Lumpur.
Syazrul Idrus, Pavandeep Singh and Suharril Fetri shared three wickets each to wrap up the Hong Kong innings for 161 runs in the 46.4 overs.
Babar Hayat top scored for the visiting team with 58 runs to his name. Malaysia, riding on the 49 runs made by opener Shafiq Sharif, completed the chase with 43 balls to spare. Hong Kong’s Nadeem Ahmed picked up four wickets, but could not prevent the defeat. Singh was adjudged the player of the match for his spell of 13 runs in 10 overs on top of three wickets.
Nepal will now face the UAE at Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, whereas Hong Kong will take on the Singapore. Similarly, Malaysia will host Oman at Bangi on the same day.