Nepal displayed a brilliant all-round performance to outplay Kenya and register a 7-wicket victory in the World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) match at the TU Cricket Ground.
Kenya was bowled out for 155 in 46.1 overs; and Nepal registered a victory with 118 balls remaining chasing down the target in 30.2 overs. After two matches, the honors were even as Kenya had earlier registered a 5-wicket victory in a rain-affected match on March 11 at the same ground.
The result of the two matches didn’t affect the WCLC point table as Kenya (10 points from 10 matches) and Nepal (8 points from 10 matches) remain on 5th and 6th places. The top four teams will play the Cricket World Cup qualifiers.
Stand-in captain Gyanendra Malla and teenage sensation Dipendra Singh Airee played a brilliant partnership to take Nepal to victory. Dipendra, only playing his second senior international match, scored 62 off 66 balls with 8 fours and a six. He showed maturity, skills and attitude of playing high-level cricket ensuring the ticking of the scoreboard and hitting occasional boundaries. He was particularly harsh on short balls from spinners pulling them to boundaries.
His lone six completed Nepal’s 100 runs before he lost his wicket to Collins Obuya. Sharad Vesawkar then joined Gyanendra, who had played a patient knock reaching his half-century and having an intention of finishing the match from the center. Sharad took a few balls to get used to before began hitting hard.
Gyanendra hit his lone six as Nepal reached 150/3 in 30 overs. Sharad then took the charge hitting a four and a six to finish the match in style. His brisk innings lasted 11 balls but produced 24 runs with 4 fours and a six. Gyanendra remained unbeaten on 64 off 93 balls with 8 fours and a six.
Earlier, Kenya’s inning was a tale of two extraordinary bowling performances and a patient batting partnership.
Invited to bat first, Kenya began well hitting 10 runs off the first over bowled by Sompal Kami, but soon found themselves on the backfoot as Mehboob Alam, who returned to international cricket on Saturday’s match after more than a year, bowled exceptional. On his second over, Mehboob grabbed two wickets to reduce Kenya to 14/2 and went on to bowl five consecutive maiden overs.
Mehboob was known as crowd’s favorite at the TU Cricket Ground and he showed he is still the same bowling 6-5-2-2 before went on to give 9 runs in his 7th over. His exploits meant that Kenya was 40/2 after 16th over.
Then it was Collins Obuya and opener Irfan Karim, who played a patient partnership of 79 runs for third wicket taking Kenya to 93/2 in 27 overs. The partnership was the highlight of the Kenyan batting as they built a good foundation after early loss where others could have stood firm and delivered.
But Nepali spinners made it a dream for them. Once Obuya was stumped, thanks to some smart work by Binod Bhandari, off leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane for 48 off 78 balls, and Karim lost his cool to hit out Sharad, the Kenyan batting collapsed. Karim scored 38 off 77 balls.
Sharad, who rarely bowls, went on to bowl 7.1 overs taking 4/28 – his career-best figure (even it’s first time he had taken wicket and he had only bowled two overs before this in 20 List A matches). He was once on the hattrick bowling out Karan Kaul (14) and Shem Ngoche. Basant Regmi, who had earlier got a key wicket of captain Rakip Patel (21), got 10th man Odhiambo before Sharad bowled last man Otieno on the first ball of 47th over.
Brief scores: Kenya 155 all out in 46.1 overs (Obuya 48, Karim 38, Patel 21, Sharad 4/28, Mehboob 2/11, Basant 2/24) lost to Nepal 160 for 3 in 30.2 overs (Gyanendra 64*, Dipendra 62, Sharad 24*, Otieno 2/29) by 7 wickets.