ABU DHABI: Debutante Binod Bhandari hit the six off the last over to force a tie and Nepal defeated Kuwait 3-2 in bowl-out in the ACC Twenty20 Cup Group B match at the Zayed Cricket Stadium here today.
Nepali bowlers Dipendra Chaudhary, Paras Khadka and Shakti Gauchan hit the stumps while former skipper Binod Das and Sanjam Regmi missed their targets during the bowl out. Out of the five bowlers, only two were on target for Kuwait.
Nepal forced the bowl out after Bhandari, who is one of the two new faces in the team, hit the six off the last ball from left arm spinner Azmat Ullah. Bhandari, who came in at No 8, took two quick doubles and a single before Mahesh Chhetri gave strike to him. Nepal needed seven runs to win from the last two balls but Bhandari failed to score in the fifth. The maximum he could do with the last ball was to hit the six and force a bowl-out and the 20-year-old batsman did exactly that.
Bhandari, whose 16-ball 25 included a six and four, shared an unbeaten stand of 19 runs with Mahesh Chhetri (not out 5). Chasing 124, Nepal had a mediocre start with openers Dipendra Chaudhary and Mehboob Alam adding 30 runs before Dipendra (16) was caught and bowled off Sanal Govind.
Bhandari made it to the playing eleven only after Amrit Bhattarai was ruled out due to stomach pain. Bhattarai was supposed to replace regular opener Paresh Lohani. "I am very happy as I was able to contribute for the team," said Bhandari. "I knew I could do something for the team. I got the chance and proved myself," he added.
Three big names in the team flopped again. Skipper Paras (10), Sharad Vesawkar (one) and Gyanendra Malla (14) were clueless against the Kuwaiti attack. They failed to put pressure on the bowlers and instead invited more pressure on the tailenders consuming too many balls. Binod Das (six) and Basanta Regmi (12) also could not live up to their expectations.
Earlier, it was the Nepali slow bowlers who put brakes on the Kuwati run flow. Mehboob picked the first wicket with the second legal delivery of the eventful first over which saw a wide ball, a four and a six apart from the wicket of Khalid Butt. Alam conceded 15 runs in the only over he bowled during the match. Alam opted out after injuring his finger while attempting a caught and bowled chance.
Das struck in the sixth over when he bowled dangerman Hisham for 34 but by the end of the six-over power play, Kuwait had scored 66 runs. Skipper Paras then introduced spin attack which slowed down the things with Shakti Gauchan conceding just four runs and Sanjam Regmi getting the wicket of Yasir. The spinners checked the runs from both the ends and Sanjam had Yasir caught at boundary line reducing Kuwait to 77-3.
Kuwait reached 81-3 after 10 overs and they struggled against the spin trio of Shakti, Sanjam and Basanta Regmi. After Sanjam inflicted a run out in the 13th over, skipper Paras brought part time bowler Dipendra Chaudhary into the attack which turned out to be very fruitful.
Dipendra was on hat-trick in the 19th over when he took a return catch of Sibtain and had Murad caught by Das at the sweeper cover. In between Basanta bowled Saad for naught. Dipendra returned with 4-21 and also earned the man of the match while Basanta Regmi took 2-10.
Skipper Paras Khadka was happy with the win but was not satisfied with the team's performance. "I can't explain what is happening. The batsmen are not getting runs," he said. Coach Roy Luke Dias was shocked by the way the team struggled despite having a good start. He praised Dipendra Chaudhary and Binod Bhandari for saving the team.
Asked about the team combination against Tuesday's match against Oman, Dias said he would bring in either Paresh Lohani or Naresh Budhayer in place of Sharad Vesawkar. "Sharad has not been able give 100 per cent for the team. So I think he will have to stay outside," said Dias.