Nepal fall just short defending 113 runs

- Adarsha Dhakal, DUBAI

Jan 26, 2019-

Nepal almost pulled off a sensational victory in defence of a low total in a three-wicket loss to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first of their three-match One-Day International (ODI) Series here at the ICC Academy Oval on Friday.

In Dubai’s weekend, around 1,000 Nepali supporters turned up to back their team but the excitement vanished in no time after the UAE made early inroads on a grassy pitch to bundle out Nepal for a below-par 113 in 33.5 overs. After early breakthroughs from Sompal Kami and Karan KC, Nepal restricted UAE to 73-7 but a testing eighth wicket partnership between Imran Haider and Amir Hayat steered the hosts to 116-7 in 32.1 overs.

KC removed Ashfaq Ahmed (5) and Kami got rid of Chirag Suri (4) reducing UAE to 12-2 in 4.4 overs. Ghulam Shabber and Shaiman Anwar (11) added 23 runs before KC struck to dismiss the latter. Shabber glued to the crease and took UAE across 50 runs before brilliant bowling spell from skipper Paras Khadka and Sandeep Lamichhane brought Nepal back into contention.

Khadka began with the dismissal of Mohammad Usman (6) before Lamichhane bowled Fahad Nawaz (2). Lamichhane then got rid of UAE top-scorer Shabber and Khadka’s dismissal of Mohammad Boota (three) left UAE reeling at 73-7 in 19.2 overs. Haider (18) and Hayat (18) then played Nepali bowlers sensibly refraining from big shots before sealing the victory in style. The two batsmen added 43 runs from 79 deliveries with Hayat hitting the winning six off Lamichhane. Lamichhane, KC and Khadka took two wickets each for Nepal.

UAE, who were missing their key players in regular skipper Rohan Mustafa, Amhed Raza and Rameez Shahzad due to an eight-week suspension from Emirates Cricket Board under disciplinary grounds for the series, take a 1-0 lead in the series. The ODIs will be followed by another three-match Twenty20 International Series on January 31.

Nepal tried a new opening pair of Gyanendra Malla and Binod Bhandari but their search for a big start continued after UAE captain Mohammad Naveed had Malla caught behind by Ghulam Shabber for a duck in the fourth ball of the innings. Naveed struck again as Bhandari chased a widish delivery for Shabber to complete an easy catch.

Sompal Kami came in as surprise No 4 and together with Paras Khadka tried to consolidate the innings before the captain threw away his wicket. In 12th over where Nepal had already collected eight runs, Khadka tried to hit Qadeer Ahmed for a second consecutive boundary in a second short-pitched delivery but ended up handing a simple catch at fine leg to Amir Hayat as a 28-run stand, Nepal’s biggest of the day, came to an end.

Three runs later, a terrible mix-up between Kami and Dipendra Singh Airee (duck) resulted in a run out of the latter, reducing Nepal to 47-4 inside 13 overs. Kami and Aairf Sheikh tried to halt the slide but their 24-run partnership ended when the former tried to sweep Imran Haider and was adjudged leg before wicket.

Kami was Nepal’s top scorer making 30 off 47 balls. Nepal soon lost Pawan Sarraf (4), Karan KC (3) and Basanta Regmi (0) in the space of nine runs. A 25-run stand between Sheikh and Lamichhane (15) helped Nepal cross triple figures before the former became the third victim of Naveed. Sheikh made 25 off 43 balls with three boundaries. Amir Hayat (3-19) and Naveed (3-31) shared six wickets between them for UAE. Haider also had two scalps.

It was not the easiest of pitches to play: Khadka

DUBAI: National cricket team captain Paras Khadka blamed the pitch for their ODI defeat against the UAE in Dubai on Friday.

After being put in to bat first on a grassy pitch at the ICC Academy Oval, Nepal hardly recovered from a poor start and were dismissed for a lowly 113 runs in 33.5 overs. The bowlers, particularly seamers, did bowl their hearts out reducing UAE to 73-7 before a 43-run eighth wicket stand doused their hopes of producing a remarkable comeback victory.

Khadka pointed out at the grassy pitch for the cause of their loss. “It was not the easiest of pitches. It was like a green top where I think both the teams struggled. Having reduced them to 73-7 at one stage, the game was almost in our hands but the last partnership took the game away from us. We could have batted better but it was not easy,” Khadka said after the match. “It was a tight game but they managed to pull it off. There were few chances that could have turned the game in our favour but its cricket and we have to take it and come back stronger,” added Khadka.

“I was aware that if I get good runs, the team will get into a good position. I should have stayed there a bit longer. I think my dismissal and Dipendra’s run out pushed us back,” Khadka said. Coach Jagat Tamatta put blames on his batsmen. “I don’t think we batted well at all. Bowlers did well but the batting department let us down. I think there is a huge improvement required in batting,” said Tamatta.

Published: 26-01-2019 10:20

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