Khadka, Regmi duo star for home team

BHAKTAPUR: Skipper Paras Khadka and Basanta Regmi led Nepal to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Bahrain in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V match here at the Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidhyalaya grounds today.

For the third game in a row, the spinners played vital role in setting up victory for the home side before skipper Khadka (71) guided his team home with a scintillating half century. Like their previous match against Singapore spinners Basanta, Sanjam Regmi and Rahul Kumar BK accounted for nine wickets to restrict Bahrain to 114 runs in 42.5 overs. Nepal surpassed the total losing two wickets in 22.5 overs.

Despite the third successive win, Nepal still trails the another unbeaten team USA on net run-rate. Meanwhile, Bahrain and Fiji, who lost against Singapore, are out of the Division-IV qualifying race after suffering third successive defeats.

Left-arm seamer Mehboob Alam gave the breakthrough for the hosts in the last ball of the first over, having caught Imran Sajjad (naught) by Dipendra Chaudhary. But the home team had to wait for another 10 overs to break the 44-run second wicket stand between Shahzad Ahmed (27) and Abdul Majeed (26). Ahmed top-edged a sweep shot off left-arm spinner Basanta to Sanjam to make it 49-2 in the 12th over.

Bahrain lost two more wickets for nine runs in the next eight overs. Ashraf Yaqoob was caught at slips by Shakti Gauchan off Rahul in the 19th over and Majeed was caught behind by Mahesh Chhetry off-spinner Sanjam in the first ball of the next over. Two simple catches were also dropped in the same over bowled by Sanjam. Alam dropped Tahir Dar (three) at gully in the very next ball before Gauchan spilled a catch of Adil Hanif (12) at silly point in the last ball of the over.

Dar and Hanif, however, both failed to capitalise on the let offs as Basanta dismissed the batsmen shortly afterwards. Alam caught Dar at long on boundary in the 23rd over before the left-arm spinner returned to clean bowl Hanif in the 27th over.

Soon Bahrain were reeling at 111-9 after Azeem ul Haq (13) was caught and bowled by Rahul in the 33rd over and Sanjam accounted for two wickets in the 40th. Qamar Saeed was caught behind in the third ball of the 40th over before Yaser Sadeq (naught) fell LBW in the last ball of the over. Basanta wrapped up the Bahrain innings, trapping Zafar Zaheer (one) leg before wicket. Basanta was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 4-11 from 8.5 overs while Sanjam took 3-18, Rahul 2-28 and Alam 1-24.

Chasing 115-run, Nepal lost both the openers — Dipendra Chaudhary (six) and Alam (one) — early on. But Gauchan (27) and skipper Khadka negotaited the early pressure to guide their team home with 145 balls to spare. Khadka completed run-a-ball half century. The skipper struck nine fours and three sixes in his 74-ball knock.

Nepal's Sri Lankan coach Roy Luke Dais praised his team's overall performance but was not satisfied with the wicket. "The wicket does not look appropriate for one-dayers," said Dias. Commenting on failures of his opening batsmen, Dais said, "It's a concern but I can't think of changing the order as everyone in the middle order are performing well."

Skipper Khadka said they were under pressure after losing two quick wickets. "But we knew we could put pressure back to Bahrain if we succeed to steal singles and doubles," added the skipper. Khadka's counterpart Sadeq gave full credit to Nepal for their victory. "They (Nepal) were better prepared and played better cricket," said the Bahrain skipper adding that they were also not used to playing in the turf.