Sports

Valiant effort against Scotland silences critics

  • ICC World Cricket League Championship
  • Mandal lives up to his reputation
- Adarsha Dhakal, KATHMANDU
Valiant effort against Scotland silences critics

Jul 31, 2015-

Nepal have silenced their critics with a creditable three-run loss against one of the top Associate giants Scotland in their first match of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) in Ayr, Scotland on Wednesday.

The valiant effort, especially from Anil Mandal and skipper Paras Khadka, comes less than two weeks after the team was roundly criticised for their dismal performance in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Ireland where they lost five of the six group matches, meaning they missed out on the 2016 World Twenty20 in India.

Despite being at the losing end in their debut WCLC match against the Twenty20 Qualifiers champion, Nepal made Scotland run for their money only falling three runs short of a mammonth 236-run target in 36 overs. A team that appeared to have lost touch of the batting skills during the World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Nepal were written off the contest on Wednesday when Scotland racked up a huge total. However, Nepal batted with determintion and zeal to almost complete the big chase.

Before the match, skipper Paras Khadka had said: “We are much better team than what we came up with in the Qualifiers.”

And on Wednesday Khadka was at the centre of Nepal’s heroic effort when he and Anil Mandal notched up country’s first century stand in List A game, taking the game down to the wire. Having fought so hard, Nepal were unlucky not to win the game with Sompal Kami and Pradeep Airee smashing 13 runs in the last over off Safyaan Sarif.

Coach Pubudu Dassanayake--one of the men at the firing line along with Khadka after the Qualifiers--was modest to play down silencing the doubters. “We are not worried of the critics and respect their views. But we are committed to work harder to become a top side,” Dassanayake told The Kathmandu Post on Thursday. The coach appreciated his boys’ approach in the game. “It’s sad that we didn’t close it well yesterday (on Wednesday). Scotland is an experienced side and we are happy to get back to form. It was good to see hunger for victory in our boys.

After losing opener Mahesh Chhetri and Gyanendra Malla at 76-2 in 18 overs, Nepal were left with a Herculean task of scoring 160 off 18 overs. But Mandal and Paras led the fightback, adding 139 runs for the third wicket. With 25 runs required off the last 12 balls, Nepal lost three crucial wickets of Khadka, who scored a gritty 70 from 53 balls, Mandal--out exactly for 100--and Sharad Vesawkar in a space of four balls as the Scots survived a huge scare.

Binod Das, assistant coach for Nepal in their UK tour, was all praise of Mandal’s valiant knock. “It was one of the best innings for Nepal. Playing against top team at their local conditions and coming from a disastrous tour of Ireland, it’s something to be really proud of. We would have loved to end up in a winning note, but it was an effort to be proud of,” said Das.

Nepal now play their second match of the double header on Friday and Dassanayake is looking forward to end the tour positively.

“All we want is a victory. Few mistakes on the field cost us the first match. Boys have realised now that if we are to succeed we need all three department to do well. We need to give more than 100 percent to beat them,” said the coach.

Mandal lives up to his reputation

Nepali opener Anil Mandal holds a unique distinction in domestic cricket to have scored three centuries in 50-over national tournament.

The opener lived up to his reputation on Wednesday by setting yet another ‘century milestone’. Mandal struck a majestic century against hosts Scotland in the ICC World Cricket League Championship match that his side eventually lost by three runs in Ayr. But by scoring the ton he became the only Nepali batsman to have scored two centuries in international game.

In his comeback trail, the opener from Janakpur also became the first Nepali batsman to score a century in List A matches. Since Scotland have an ODI status, the match is labelled as List A. Nepal ended up losing the game but Mandal’s ton has instilled a huge confidence in Nepali batting order that, off late, has been largely dependant on skipper Paras Khadka and his deputy Gyanendra Malla.

Mandal, who shared a record 139-run partnership in List A match with Khadka, scored exactly 100 before losing his wicket in the first ball of the last over. Mandal also became the only opener for the country to score a half century. Mandal’s previous century came against Denmark during the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 match in 2012 in Malaysia. Besides Mandal, Raju Khadka, Shakti Gauchan, Sharad Vesawkar, Subash Khakurel and Paras have scored one international century each for Nepal.

Nepal travelled to Scotland after a disappointing ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers, where none of the Nepali batsmen managed to score over 100 runs in six matches combined. Madal himself failed with the bat and the opener wants to leave behind the Ireland disaster.

“What’s gone is gone. We have to move on. I had planned to play my game here (Scotland),” said Mandal. “The ball was nicely coming on to the bat and it gave me more confidence. Had it been for a winning cause, my century’s importance could have been even greater. I was looking to steer Nepal to victory but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Mandal said from Scotland.

Published: 31-07-2015 09:48

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