Sports

Paras powers Nepal to historic ODI series win against the UAE

- Adarsha Dhakal, Dubai

Jan 29, 2019-

One-Day International cricket’s latest entrants Nepal scripted a historic series win after beating the hosts United Arab Emirates by four wickets in the final game of the three-match bilateral contest here at the ICC Academy Oval on Monday.

The win coupled with captain Paras Khadka’s 109-ball 115—first ever ODI century by a Nepali batsman—set the tone for Nepal’s biggest chase in cricket history. Inviting the UAE to bat first, Nepali seamers took control of the first 20 overs before the hosts’ lofty hittings towards the end of their innings saw them reach 254-5 in 50 overs.

Nepal played catch-up with the run rate as Khadka laid the platform for the famous victory before Sompal Kami (26) and Aarif Sheikh (21) remained composed to take the team home for a 2-1 series win with 32 balls to spare.

It was Nepal’s first series victory after the country earned the coveted ODI status in March last year. In their first series, Nepal had shared the spoils 1-1 with the Netherlands. The victory against the Emiratis has also lifted Nepal to the 15th spot in the ICC ODI rankings which was released by the cricket’s world governing body shortly after the match. Although the UAE currently shares the 15th place, Nepal can climb up the ranks with a win in their next ODI match.

Nepal’s series win comes at a time when it is struggling to get home matches as the country’s cricket ruling body has been suspended by the ICC. 

But Khadka is hopeful the historic win could change the heart of those who call the shots at the ICC and help Nepal host international teams.

“I hope it [series win] helps because we have made a mark in the last three matches. Hopefully, the ICC will come up with a plan to get our grand ODI approval by giving us a home ODI. Nepali fans deserve to watch their team play at home and I am sure we’ll be granted that opportunity very soon,” said Khadka. Having kept his cool in a number of crunch matches in the past, a lot had depended on Khadka. And as it turned out, Khadka put on even better show to give hundreds of Nepali fans who came to root them at the stadium in Dubai, and millions back home a special gift. 

“It’s a great feeling to have secured the first series victory. But it’s a very young team and we’ve got to be patient and should not get carried away. It’s a step-by-step process. There is a lot more that we want to achieve and it’s the result like this that gives us a lot of confidence,” said Khadka, who was adjudged both man of the final and man of the series. 

It was Khadka’s fourth century of his cricketing career, having previously reached three figures against Kuwait (ACC Trophy Elite in 2012), Namibia (ICC World Cricket League Championship in 2016) and against the UAE (2018 World Cricket League Division 2 final last year).

With just 41 runs in the first two ODIs, Khadka was going through a difficult phase that stretched back to a poor display in the ACC Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia last year. But the century has eased pressure on him. “More than that, it was a matter of doing your job. I think runs were due for a while and I was disappointed,” he added.

“It’s cricket and it never goes the way you want. I am more than happy to contribute to the team no matter whether it’s with the bat, ball or fielding. But having said that, it’s always good to get a hundred and finish on the winning side.”

Coach Jagat Tamatta could hardly hold back his smile as he celebrated the team’s success. “We are happy and want to congratulate everyone. It was a gem of an innings from Paras--truly unforgettable one at that,” Tamatta said, while giving due credit also to other players for their efforts. “Even the fans have played their part in victory because they turned up in huge numbers root us.”

For team’s batting consultant Umesh Patwal, what makes this victory memorable is the fact that Nepal chased down the 250 plus target in 45 overs with four wickets in hand. “This is the biggest positive I could see. Paras batted extremely well and the youngsters stayed around him which I feel is the brightest aspect of this series. Hopefully, this will set the tone for the team’s next matches.”

Related stories:

Nepal fall just short defending 113 runs

Records galore as Nepal level ODI series

Published: 29-01-2019 07:29

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