KATHMANDU, July 18
Nepal crashed out of the ICC World Twenty20 race following their seven-wicket loss against Jersey in the sixth and final match of the Qualifiers in Dublin today.
Nepal ended the tournament with just three points from six matches that also dashed their dreams of playing in the second consecutive World Cup of the shortest version of the game. Nepal’s batting woes continued as the team could register just one victory, the six-wicket win over the USA in the first match.
After the second match against Namibia was washed out, Nepal lost four straight games, and poor batting was the reason behind the dismal performance of the team. Gyanendra Malla was the lone batsman to score a half century in six matches, whereas head coach Pubudu Dassanayake experimented the opening pair in almost every match. The team has been travelling to places with just one regular opener in Subash Khakurel and his poor form forced Dassanayake find a pair to open the innings.
Sagar Pun opened in four matches, twice with Anil Mandal and one each time with Khakurel and Pradeep Airee, while Airee and Binod Bhandari were the openers in the match against Jersey. The best opening stand for Nepal in five matches was 18 runs in three overs. The consistent failures of the opening pair put a huge amount of pressure on the middle order that included Malla, skipper Paras Khadka and Sharad Vesawkar. Nepal’s fate by and large heavily depends on the performance of the trio and this time around they also faltered.
In a must-win encounter against Jersey, Nepal came out with a new pair of Airee and Bhandari after they were invited to take the first strike. And both of them returned to the pavilion in the space of one run with just seven runs on the board. Skipper Khadka and his deputy Malla had added 23 runs for the third wicket before Khadka had his middle stump rattled by Ben Stevens while trying to play a big shot.
Rajesh Pulami handed an easy return catch to Cornelis Bodenstein, while Malla sliced a wide delivery from Nat Watkins to third man where Charles Perchard took an easy catch. Sharad Vesawkar (16) and debutante Siddhant Lohani added 18 runs for sixth wicket before Lohani shared a 22-run stand with Basant Regmi (seven) to take the team total past three digits. Lohani played an entertaining knock of 16-ball 27 that included two each fours and sixes. Both Lohani and Regmi fell in the last over as Nepal managed to post a respectable score of 105-8.
Shakti Gauchan reduced Jersey to 6-1 dismissing opener Edward Farley (naught) in his third ball but skipper Peter Gough and Jonty Jenner added 55 runs for second wicket to take match away from Nepal. Khadka had Gough (27) caught by Vesawkar and Lohani ran out Jenner (30) in the space of two runs to put pressure on Jersey but Bodenstein (27) and Stevens (13) guided the team to win with 23 balls remaining.
Nepal skipper Khadka said the tournament was a bad one for the team. “We tried different combinations and none of the plans worked. It just didn’t happen for us this time. I wouldn’t say it was because of conditions. We just haven’t been able to adapt our game plans as much as we would have liked to. There’s a lot we can learn from this tournament, and hopefully we’ll come back with flying colours next time,” he added.
The top six teams from the 41-team Qualifiers will join 10 Full Members of the ICC in the World Twenty20 to be held from India March 11 to April 3 in India. Nepal will now travel to Scotland to play the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship matches slated for July 29 and 31.