United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Nepal’s old foe which had in recent matches outperformed Nepal – thanks to their ODI status. And, when the two teams went head to head in the World Cricket League Division 2 match, both were desperate for victory having won one of two matches.
It turned out that Nepal still have the strength to beat the UAE with three star performers – pacer Sompal Kami, leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and all-rounder Paras Khakda – making crucial contributions to Nepal’s four wicket victory.
Invited to bat first in a 34 overs per side match, UAE struggled to score runs and were bundled out for 114 in 31 overs. Nepal’s batting woes continued but quick-fire half-century from Paras was enough to reach the target in 28.5 overs.
The victory means Nepal is currently in second position of the points table with 4 points from 3 matches behind Canada, who have perfect 6 from 3 matches. UAE, Namibia and Oman have 2 points each and Kenya, Nepal’s opponent tomorrow, is pointless.
Sompal began taking wicket in the first over bowling out Ashfaq Ahmed for golden duck. He added Ghulan Shabbar (16) in 7th over and four balls later Karan KC removed UAE captain Rohan Mustafa (7). It’s Karan’s only wicket in the tournament so far.
Rameez Shahzad (4 off 33 balls) and Shaimar Anwar (30 off 40) put saved wickets before Sandeep was introduced. Sandeep went on to claim wickets in his second and third delivery. Shahzad and new man Mohd Usman were his victims. Anwar too became his victim a few overs later.
Paras then removed Mohd Boota (15 off 14) and Adnan Mufti (18 off 26) – who was man of the match for his century in last match against Nepal – as UAE went down to 95/8. A few shots from tailenders before being removed by Sompal, who finished 4/30, took UAE past three-digit.
The target of 115 was not hard, but for Nepal’s struggling batting lineup, it’s not an easy job. The batting woes continued this match as well with four of top five batsmen failing to score two-digit.
No 3 Paras however take the responsibility and ensured that Nepal wouldn’t stumble this time.
Man of the match Paras hit 51 off 48 balls with 2 fours and 5 sixes before being undone by Amir Hayat with Nepal still needing 39 runs for victory. Aarif Sheikh (16 off 33), Rohit Paudel (12 not out off 41) and Sompal (10 not out off 5 balls) took Nepal home comfortably at the end.
For UAE, Mohd Naveed and Hayat claimed a couple of wickets each.
“The wicket was such that you could get out at any time,” Paras told The National of UAE. “You have to back yourself, and fortunately that plan worked for me. I backed myself and the runs came.
“Chasing a low total, we knew that if one of the batsmen goes out there and gets a 50 or 60, we would be able to make it. Fortunately, I managed to do that.”
UAE coach Dougie Brown said: “Take nothing away from Nepal, they bowled really well in very favorable conditions. I thought we fought back really hard, the way the bowlers came in very well at the start, but Paras’s innings changed the whole course of the game.”
“What we need to address is the fact that, even in difficult conditions, 20 more runs would have made a lot of difference to the outcome of the game.”
Brief Scores: UAE 114 all out in 31 overs (S Anwar 30, Sompal 4/30, Sandeep 3/30, Paras 2/20) lost to Nepal 115 for 6 in 28.5 overs (Paras 51) by 4 wickets.