Sandeep Lamichhanne returned with the best bowling figure by any Nepali player in List A cricket matches; and Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Paudel showed enough nerves to rescue Nepal from a difficult position to register a close win.
Kenya made 177/8 in 50 overs as bowlers – except Sandeep – struggled to take wickets at the Wanderers Cricket Ground. Nepal’s chase was – as always – in trouble when it was 14/3 and later 82/5. Aarif and Rohit added 87 runs to take Nepal to a winning position.
In last over, Nepal needed 6 runs with Rohit and Sompal Kami batting. Rohit took two in the first ball, one in second ball and Sompal took another one in the third ball brining down the equation to 2 runs from 3 balls. But next ball, Rohit was run out and Sompal missed the fifth ball. Nepal needed 2 to win in last ball and that was possible after a misfield.
Sompal played away on the leg side and the fielder coming in from the deep fails to pick it up cleanly and Nepal got enough time to come back for the second to register third victory of the tournament.
Rohit was top-scorer with 47 off 86 balls – a knock with just one boundary. Aarif made 42 off 82 balls and was out trying to hit a big shot. Paras Khadka had also contributed 42 off 44 balls. Sharad Vesawkar, the only other batsman to score double-digit, made 19.
Emmanuel Ringera spearheaded Kenyan bowling taking 3/19 in his 6 overs.
Earlier, Nepal paid off a price for not playing regular wicket-keeper Dilip Nath and giving the cap to Anil Sah. Stand-in wicket-keeper Gyanendra Malla failed to collect leg-side edge when Irfan Karim was on zero after Nepal chose to bowl first.
Karim went on to score 42 – the highest in Kenyan innings. He and Alex Obanda (41) added 66 runs for first wicket before Sandeep provided a breakthrough in 17th over. Some tight bowling, and regular wickets by Sandeep meant Kenya scored slow and reached 139/8 in 45 overs with Sandeep taking Kenya’s eighth wicket in his last ball.
In last 5 overs, Kenya added 38 runs without a wicket to reach a respectable total. Sompal, Sharad and Basant Regmi picked a wicket each.
For Kenya, Colin Obuya (27), Nelson Odhiambo (24 not out) and Shem Ngoche (23 not out off 15 balls) contributed some runs.
In other matches of the day, Namibia beat Canada by 17 runs and UAE beat Oman by 43 runs. In the point tables, Canada and Nepal are in pole position with 6 points each; UAE and Namibia have 4 points each with Namibia still have a game in hand against Kenya, who are pointless. Oman has two points.
Nepal plays Canada on February 14.