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Nepal fell agonisingly short of title

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Feb 16, 2018-Skipper Paras Khadka scored his second List ‘A’ century but was still unable to hand Nepal victory in the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 final as they lost to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by 7 runs in Windhoek, Namibia on Thursday.

Electing to bat first, the UAE rode on a century from Ashfaq Ahmed to pile up 277-4. Nepal needed 34 runs from the last three overs but the UAE seamer Mohammad Naveed and Rohan Mustafa bowled excellently in the 48th and 49th overs conceding just three runs each as Nepal were restricted to 270-8.

Khadka, who was on strike on 93 for the final over, struck Naveed for three sixes in the third, fifth and sixth balls to complete his second century in List ‘A’ and third overall. He finished unbeaten on 112 runs from 103 balls with eight sixes and three boundaries.

The Nepali captain also ended up as tournament’s leading scorer with 241 runs. Khadka’s previous century in List ‘A’ was against Namibia in the ICC World Cricket League Championship home game in Kathmandu. His career’s first century had come against Kuwait during the 2013 ACC Trophy Elite in a match that Nepal had eventually lost.

Nepal lost openers Dilip Nath (13) and Gyanendra Malla (24) in a space of two balls after putting on 38 runs—the best first wicket partnership for Nepal in the tournament. Khadka kept Nepal in the chase holding the innings together with Dipendra Singh Airee and Sharad Vesawkar with two half century partnerships. Khadka put on 73 runs for the third wicket with Airee and 63 for the fourth with Vesawkar (30). Airee was the next best scorer after Khadka scoring 35 off 66 balls with two sixes. Khadka also shared 42 runs for the sixth wicket with Rohit Kumar Paudel (23) but the UAE bowlers held firm in the closing stages to deny Nepal their first Division 2 title. Amir Hayat took 4-53 from 10 overs for the UAE and Imran Haider claimed  2-10.

Earlier, Ahmed and skipper Rohan Mustafa laid the foundation for a big UAE total as the openers combined for a century partnership notching up 109 runs in 24 overs. Basanta Regmi gave Nepal the much-needed breakthrough removing Mustafa in the first ball of the 25th over. Mustafa made 51 off 74 with seven boundaries.

Ahmed continued to hold the innings and together with Ghulam Shabber (18) shared another 54 runs for the second wicket. Sandeep Lamichhane broke the partnership running out Shabber but the UAE continued to pile up runs.

Ahmed reached his century and was finally lost his wicket holing out a catch to Karan KC off Lamichhane. Rameez Shahzad (41 not out) and Shaiman Anwar then did the rest leading the UAE to a big total. Anwar was particularly menacing, striking a 24-ball 40 with three sixes and two boundaries. Lamichhane bowled economically taking 1-39 from 10 overs and finished as tournament’s joint leading wicket taker with 17 scalps. He won his first player-of-the-series in any ICC event.

Summary

UAE 277-4 (A Ahmed 114, R Mustafa

51; S Lamichhane 1-39, B Regmi 1-53) beat Nepal 270-8 (P Khadka 112*, D Airee 35; A Hayat 4-53, I Haider 2-44)

by seven runs

Man-of-the-match: A Ahmed

Man-of-the-series: S Lamichhane (NEP)

Nepal join Afghanistan,  Zimbabwe in Qualifiers

Nepal joined Test cricket’s new entrants and familiar foes Afghanistan and hosts Zimbabwe in next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers after finishing runners-up in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia on Thursday. Hong Kong and Scotland are the other two teams in Group ‘B’.

Nepal could have joined West Indies, the Netherlands, Ireland and Papua New Guinea in Group ‘A’ had they clinched the title. The Qualifiers is on March 4-25 and will send the two finalists to the 2019 ICC World Cup.

The top three teams after the league games will compete in the Super Six. The qualifying teams play each other three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage. All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group. The top three ranked non-Test playing teams, barring the Netherlands, will get One Day International status.

Nepal will begin their campaign with Zimbabwe on the opening day. They next meet Scotland on March 8 and Afghanistan one day later. They will wrap up the league campaign with a match against Hong Kong on March 12. Before the tournament begins, they will take on UAE and Hong Kong in the warm-up matches. (PR)

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