March 15, 2018 will be considered historic day for Nepal’s cricket as Nepal secured One-Day International (ODI) status after beating Papua New Guinea (PNG) by 6 wickets in Cricket World Cup Qualifiers at Old Hararians Sports Club, Zimbabwe.
Nepal’s match against any of 15 other ODI nations after the conclusion of CWCQ on March 25 will be recorded as ODI cricket match. Nepal will also be Twenty20 International nation. The status will be in place for at least four years until 2022 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.
For the records, Nepal joins India, South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Scotland, U.A.E., and Netherlands as ODI nation.
Today’s results also meant Nepal’s stay on Division 1 of the World Cricket League (WCL) and guaranteed place in the WCL Championship.
Today, spin twins Sandeep Lamichhane and Dipendra Airee helped Nepal sweep aside Papua New Guinea by six wickets; and the Netherlands beat Hong Kong by 44 runs to ensure Nepal’s ODI status.
Nepal’s bowlers laid the platform for the comprehensive win, with Sandeep and Dipendra taking four wickets apiece to dismiss PNG for 114 in just 27.2 overs. It was another disappointing batting display from PNG, who have now been bowled out for 200 or fewer in four of their five matches in the competition.
Paras Khadka’s decision to field upon winning the toss was vindicated when Sompal Kami trapped Assad Vala, the PNG skipper, lbw in the third over for 10. Karan KC then got into the act, getting rid of the dangerous Tony Ura for 11, as the scoreboard read 29/2.
Chad Soper and Sese Bau took PNG past the 50-mark, sharing a third-wicket stand of 22, but from then on Nepal’s bowlers ran amok.
Sandeep, the 17-year-old leg-spinner, was irrepressible once again, claiming figures of 4/29 to take his wicket tally for the tournament to 11. He took a wicket in each of his first four overs, trapping Soper lbw for 10 and then sneaking one past the defences of Bau (11) before accounting for Mahuru Dai (5) and Kiplin Doriga (10). That left PNG floundering at 78/6.
Charles Amini and Jason Kila tried to rectify the damage by forging a 28-run stand for the seventh wicket, but then it was the turn of the off-spinner Airee to tear into PNG, taking the last four wickets to finish with the impressive figures of 4/14 – the 18-year-old’s best in List A cricket.
Amini was the first to fall to Airee, dismissed lbw for an innings top-score of 19, before the spinner saw off Kila (15) and Norman Vanua with successive deliveries. A fantastic reaction catch from keeper Anil Sah removed John Reva, ending the innings in double-quick time.
Two early wickets gave PNG brief hope in Nepal’s reply, Gyanendra Malla edging behind off Alei Nao and Anil trapped in front by Vanua to leave the score 13/2.
Paras, Nepal’s captain and talisman, helped to settle the nerves with an 18-ball 20 before he mis-timed a pull stroke off Reva and was pouched at mid-on.
Nepal were not to be denied though, as Dipendra capped a fine individual display with a composed innings of 50* from 58 balls to see his side home. He was ably supported by Aarif Sheikh, who chipped in with a useful 26 before becoming Vanua’s second victim, as Nepal reached their target with 27 overs to spare.
Nepal will now take on the Netherlands in the seventh-place play-off in Kwekwe on March 17, while PNG meet Hong Kong on the same day in Harare to decide who finishes ninth.
“It’s massive, it’s something we have worked towards for a very long time,” said Paras. “As a team we’ve been pushing ourselves. We’re very glad that we’re winning games through different situations, players are standing up and everyone’s contributing.”
“As a captain I’m happy to lead such an amazing bunch of boys. We’ve always been hungry to do well.”