Malla, spinners star as Nepal down USA


Gyanendra Malla scored a fluent half-century as Nepal defeated the United States of America by six wickets in their Group A match of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Stormont, Belfast on Friday.

Batting first, the USA were bowled out for 121 in 20 overs, thanks to spinners Shakti Gauchan and Basant Regmi who shared six wickets between them. In reply, Nepal reached 122-4 with two balls to spare. Vice-captain Malla eased Nepal’s run chase hitting six fours and a six in his 42-ball 53 after they lost opener Sagar Pun (six) in the first over with just six runs on the board.

Anil Mandal, who opened the innings with Pun after coach Pubudu Dassanayake dropped regular opener Subash Khakurel, scored 42-ball 29. Malla and Mandal shared a 78-run partnership for the second wicket after Pun was out in the fifth ball of the innings.

Nepal came under pressure after Binod Bhandari (seven) lost his wicket in the first ball of the 19th over with the team needing 13 off 11 balls. Khadka and Sharad Vesawkar then took the team home without further loss. The duo collected five runs in the penultimate over and took Nepal close to victory with the team needing eight runs from the last over. Khadka took the pressure off the team hitting a four in the first ball of the final over bowled by Adil Bhatti and took two in the next ball as Nepal completed the victory with two balls to spare.

Khadka remained unbeaten on 21 off 17 balls that included two hits to the fence, while Vesawkar was not out on two. Jasdeep Singh took 2-23, whereas Hammad Shahid and Karan Ganesh claimed one wicket each for the USA.

Earlier, the USA made a blistering start scoring 27 runs in the first three overs before Pun gave Nepal the first breakthrough dismissing opener Fahad Babar (23). Paceman Sompal Kami then trapped Shiva Vashishat (three) leg before before veteran spinners Regmi and Gauchan combined to put the Americans under pressure.

Regmi had Mrunal Patel caught by Sharad Vesawkar for seven runs in the ninth over and took a return catch to dismiss Timil Patel (two) in the 12th over to reduce the USA to 73-4. Gauchan then struck twice in the 13th over, dismissing dangerous looking Akeem Dodson, who top scored for the team with 39 off 33 balls that included four fours and a six, and Japen Patel (one) to leave the USA reeling at 86-6.

Gauchan got his third wicket when he had Karan Ganesh (15) caught by Pradeep Airee, while Kami returned to dismiss Muhammad Ghous (two). Regmi then trapped Adil Bhatti for 14 and Karan KC ran out Jasdeep Singh (six) in the last ball of the innings. Gauchan was the pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 3-16, while Regmi claimed 3-24 and Kami took 2-22. Nepal will take on Namibia on Saturday.

In the day’s other matches, hosts Ireland defeated Namibia by seven wickets, while Kenya beat Canada by seven wickets and Afghanistan outplayed UAE by eight wickets.