Batting falters as Nepal go down to Kenya

Kathmandu, March 11

Nepal’s hopes of earning a berth in top four of the ICC World Cricket League Championship received a severe blow when they faced a five-wicket defeat at the hands of Kenya under Duckworth-Lewis method in the first match here at the TU Stadium today.

Poor batting was the main reason behind the loss as stand-in captain Gyanendra Malla was the highest scorer in Nepal’s below par total of 112-8 in 36 overs. The match was reduced to 38-over-a-side due to rain and Nepal could play for 36 overs before the match was stopped because of another bout of rain.

Kenya got the revised target of 104 from 29 overs and then 94 from 26 overs after rain stopped play again. Kenya reached 98-5 with 11 balls to spare.

Malla led the team after regular skipper Paras Khadka opted out of the match at the last moment due to health issues following the appendicitis surgery three weeks ago, while Dipendra Singh Airee and Sunil Dhamala made their national team debut and Mahaboob Alam made a comeback after two years.

Put in to bat first after Kenya skipper Rakep Patel won the toss under overcast condition, Nepal made a bright start with Malla and Dhamala putting on 13 runs in the first two overs. Dhamala had the forgettable debut as he scored just three runs in his first international match when Kenyan right-arm medium pacer Elijan Otieno had the Nepali batsman caught by skipper Patel in the sixth over.

Odhiambo brothers reduced Nepal to 45-3 in 13 overs with Nehemiah clean bowling Malla and Nelson had Sagar Pun (10) caught by Collins Obuya in the space of eight runs. Malla top scored for the hosts with 27 off 35 balls that included five boundaries.

Another debutante Dipendra Singh Airee saw Sharad Vesawkar (three), Binod Bhandari (four), and Mahaboob Alam (two) fall cheaply at the other end before he was caught by Obuya off Nelson for 19 off 56 balls with Nepal reeling at 73-7 in 27 overs.

After Basant Regmi (six) returned to the pavilion without troubling the scorers much, Shakti Gauchan and Sompal Kami added 30 runs — the highest for Nepal — for the unbroken ninth wicket partnership before rain stopped the match. Gauchan struck two fours in his 24-ball 18 not out, while Kami remained unbeaten on 15 off 17 that included two fours.

Shem Ngoche was the pick of the Kenya bowlers with the figures of 3-18 from six overs, while Nelson Odhiambo took two and Nehemian Odhiambo, Otieno and Patel pocketed one wicket each.

In reply, Kenya skipper Patel scored an unbeaten 34 off 52 balls hitting one each six and four, while Collins Obuya contributed 24 off 32 balls. Nepali bowlers turned the match toward their favour when they reduced Kenya to 21-3 inside seven overs after Sagar Pun claimed two wickets in two balls. But skipper Patel and Obuya dashed Nepal’s hopes with a partnership of 44 runs for the fourth wicket.

With rain threatening to disrupt the match again, legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane created another opportunity for Nepal when he took two wickets in the space of six runs to reduce Kenya to 71-5. The visitors had reached 80-5 in 21.2 overs before the match was briefly halted by rain and they got the revised target of 94 from 26 overs, with Kenya needing 14 runs from 28 balls.

Kenya collected six runs from the remaining four balls of the 22nd over and Basant Regmi gave away six in the next over. Sagar Pun managed a maiden over to put pressure on the visitors before Kenya skipper Patel hit Sompal Kami for a six in the first ball of the 24th over to complete the victory. Sagar Pun (2-8) and Sandeep Lamichhane (2-21) shared four wickets, while Basant Regmi took one for Nepal.

The two teams will play their second match of the fifth round on Monday at the same venue. With five matches remaining, Nepal’s chances of finishing in the top four seems bleak as they are sixth in the eight-team table with six points from nine matches.

Top four teams will qualify for the World Cup Qualifier 2018, while remaining four will go down to WCL Division-II to fight with other teams for the last two spots.