It was a pure magical performance by Karan KC whose 42 not out pulled off an unbelievable one-wicket victory against Canada at the World Cricket League Division 2 in Windhoek, Namibia.
The victory put Nepal in the final of the tournament and got promoted to the Division 1, but more importantly it meant Nepal qualified for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe from March 4 to 25, 2018.
On the scores book, the match read: Canada 194 for 8 in 50 overs (Wijeratne 103*, Basant 3/34, Sandeep 2/40) lost of Nepal 195 for 9 in 50 overs (Karan 42*, Dilip 41, Rohit 27, Aarif 26, Dipendra 18, Pervez 3/41, Dutta 2/23, Zafar 2/26) by 1 wicket.
Last wicket magic
Batting at No 10, Karan entered the pitch when Nepal’s chances were very bleak. Aarif Sheikh, who was playing on 26 runs, got out immediately leaving him with last man Sandeep Lamichhane at 144 for 9, needing 51 for victory off 47 deliveries.
The pair played 8 dot balls before Karan drove a boundary at long off and two balls later, hit the first six of the innings. The pair played sensibly, defending and saving the last wicket, with Karan hitting occasional boundaries to bring the equation down to 21 balls off last two overs.
The 19th over was a big over as Nepal stole 13 runs from Satsimranjit Singh Dhindsa with Karan hitting a massive six and a four.
Nepal needed 8 off last over bowled by Cecil Pervez, who had taken 3 wickets early in the innings, and Karan was on the strike. The first four balls were dot and looked like Canada heading for a tight win. Karan hit the fifth ball for a six over the cover making it two runs in a ball.
Under pressure Pervez bowled a wide leveling the score and gave away a run in a low fulltoss the last ball as Nepal celebrated wildly for an unlikely victory.
Karan scored 42 off 31 balls with 3 fours and 4 sixes while Sandeep remained unbeaten on 5 in 18 balls.
Senior failed, youngsters contributed
Earlier in the innings, the famous trio – Paras Khadka, Gyanendra Malla and Sharad Vesawkar – failed scoring just 10 runs between them. Gynendra scored 9 off 25 balls before falling to a stunning catch at the mid-wicket.
Paras got an unlikely golden duck on the short ball and Sharad, who batted at No 5, scored a run off 5 balls before falling to another good catch.
However, the youngsters in the team contributed runs. Opener Dilip Nath scored 41 off 68 balls and Dipendra Singh Airee got 18 off 38 while Aarif Sheik (26 off 57) and Rohit Paudel (27 off 42) partnered 46 runs for 6th wicket.
However, Nepal lost four wickets in space of 17 runs to go down 144 for 9 before the magical knock by Karan.
Paras gave his reaction at the end of the match: “I can’t speak, the last wicket made 50 odd runs, cricket is just a winner today. I feel for Canada, one in a million times you would win those games. Things have just worked out for us, we have been working so hard for all these years and eventually it has happened for us, I am speechless.
“The fans back home are one of our biggest inspirations and we always thank them. We want to do well, and help Nepal cricket grow.
“We need to take all the positives from this tournament into the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier as it will be a different level out there.”
Wijeratne carried the bat
Nepal won the toss and invited Canada to bat first. Canadian innings was built around opener Srimantha Wijeratne’s knock who carried the bat through the innings and finished at 103 not out off 152 balls.
He scored quickly early adding 46 with Gunasekera, who just got 9, before becoming Basant’s first of three victims. Amid some tight bowling, Sandeep grabbed another two and Basant got one to make it 90/4 in 27th over.
Hamza Tariq (24) was the second highest scorer while Dhindsa got 18 not out and Saad Bin Zafar got 10. Canada benefitted from a knee injury to Sandeep, who during his first spell, left the field and when he returned, he wasn’t at his best and went for two sixes.
Karan and Sharad claimed a wicket each as Nepal gave away 19 extra runs – 13 of which were wides – to Canada as they reached a defendable total.
Nepal finish top of the table
With four wins in five matches, Nepal finished top of the table with 8 points while UAE edged past Canada and Namibia although all three have equal 6 points.
Tomorrow, Nepal plays UAE in the final while Canada and Namibia will battle for the third place. Oman and winless Kenya will play another playoff.
Nepal and UAE got promotion to Division 1, Namibia and Canada stays on Division 2 while Oman and Kenya got relegated to Division 3 of the World Cricket League.