Outplay Netherlands by 142 runs to win first title at home in 11 years


Nepal national cricket team won the first Twenty20 International series title with a 142- run victory over the Netherlands in the final of the Bajaj Pulsar Tri-Nation T20I Series here today.

Batting first, Nepal posted a record 238-3 in their allotted 20 overs before packing the Dutchmen for a paltry 96 runs with 16 balls to spare at the TU Stadium, recording the biggest victory in terms of runs. Previously, Nepal had scored 236 against Bhutan in the South Asian Games in 2019 in their 141-run victory.

With the victory, Nepal lifted their first title at home in 11 years after the ICC World Cricket League Division-V trophy in 2010. Nepal had claimed the first T20I trophy in 2019 but, that was a bilateral series against the United Arab Emirates. The title is also the first for Nepal's Australian head coach Dav Whatmore, who took the helm of the national team in January.

Invited to take the first strike, Nepali openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh made a flying start scoring 28 runs in the first two overs before the latter was dismissed two balls later. Paul van Meekeran had Sheikh caught by Philippe Boissevain at long-off for 16 off just eight balls that included a four and two sixes.

Bhurtel and skipper Gyanendra Malla then added 57 runs for the second wicket, while Bhurtel combined with Kushal Malla for a 76-run partnership for the third wicket to set the foundation for a big total.

Gyanendra Malla struck three fours and two sixes in his 19-ball 33, while Bhurtel scored his fourth half century of the series before being dismissed for 77 off just 53 balls that included eight boundaries and three sixes.

Kushal Malla and vice-captain Dipendra Singh Airee shared a 75-run partnership for the unbroken fourth wicket to help Nepal post the 200- plus for the third time in a row the tournament. Malla remained unbeaten on 50 off just 24 balls hitting two boundaries and five sixes, while Airee struck five fours and three sixes in his 18-ball 48 not out.

Boissevain finished with 2-43, while Sebastiaan Braat took one wicket for the Netherlands.

In reply, the Dutchmen never threatened the total. They lost wickets at regular intervals before being folded to below three-figure score. Braat was the top scorer with 26 off 27 balls, while Max O'Dowd contributed 20.

Player-of-the-match Karan KC was the pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 3-11 from three overs, while star legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane returned 2-26 and Abinash Bohara bagged one wicket for the home side. Lamichhane claimed 13 wickets in five matches to finish as the highest wicket-taker. He surpassed Karan KC in T20I bowlers' list with a total of 49. KC claimed seven to slip to second with 47.

Bhurtel, who created world record scoring three consecutive half centuries in the first three matches of his career, was adjudged player of the series.

He received a Pulsar NS 200 motorcycle. He finished the tournament as the highest scorer with 278 runs. Bhurtel and Sheikh - who both made their T20I debut along with Sahab Alam and Kushal Malla - also broke the world record of best debutant pair with a stand of 116 runs for the opening stand against the Netherlands in the inaugural match.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.