Nepal all but out of WC Qualifiers

Nepal’s hopes of playing the second straight World Cup suffered a huge blow when they faced a thrashing eight-wicket loss against Papua New Guinea in the Group A match of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Dublin, Ireland on Friday.

The third consecutive defeat meant Nepal are at the fifth position with three points from five matches, and only miraculous performance plus favourable results of other matches can save the team from crashing out. Nepal, who had finished third in the previous edition’s qualifiers in the UAE two years ago, participated in their maiden World Cup in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where they narrowly missed the second round berth last year.

As a Twenty20 International nation Nepal were directly in the Qualifiers this time around and the team had one of the best preparations for the 14-team tournament in Ireland and Scotland. After their 3-1 defeat in the T20I series against the Netherlands, Nepal opened the Qualifiers on a winning note beating the USA by six wickets before their second match against Namibia was washed out. Since then, Nepal have lost three matches in the trot and are in a peculiar situation.

Nepal now need to beat Jersey on Saturday and wait for either Hong Kong or Namibia — who have five points each — lose their remaining two matches. In that case, the fourth-placed team will be decided on net run rate.

Put into bat first, Nepal were bowled out for a paltry 93 runs in 19.4 overs before PNG raced to 99.2 in 14.1 overs. Nepal made a mediocre start with Sagar Pun and Pradeep Airee opening the innings in yet another experiment of head coach Pubudu Dassanayake. The duo had added 17 runs in 2.2 overs before Pun was run out trying to take the third run. He scored 15 off 12 balls hitting three fours.

Gyanendra Malla joined Airee at the centre and they added 31 runs for the second wicket before Malla was bowled by Mahuru Dai when he lost his control while trying to play a sweep shot. Nepal lost two quick wickets in the space of two runs to be under pressure at 56-4. John Reva bowled Airee when the batsman went for a slog and the ball swung towards the off stump, while skipper Paras Khadka chased a wide delivery from Dai and handed an easy catch to Kila Pala at point.

Airee top scored for Nepal with 29 off 28 that included four boundaries. Things got worse when Sharad Vesawkar (11), Rajesh Pulami (seven) and Binod Bhandari (four) fell in the space of eight runs before the Nepali innings folded for 93. Shakti Gauchan remained unbeaten on six. Reva, Dai and Assad Vala took two wickets each for PNG.

In reply, Sompal Kami reduced the PNG for 10-1 in the second over dismissing Lega Siaka (one), but Tony Ura and Vala took the match away from Nepal adding 43 runs for the second wicket. After Basant Regmi dismissed Ura (32) in the eighth over, Vala (34) and Pala (22) saw PNG home without further loss with 35 balls remaining. With the win, PNG advanced to the knock out stage.

“We had a decent start, just could not capitalise on it. We lost momentum and wickets in the middle overs. So couldn’t get partnerships,” Khadka told ESPNcricinfo after the match. “We have one game to go, so hopefully can bat better. With the ball doing it a bit we are trying to see off the new ball but plans haven’t come off. We will learn from our mistakes and come back strong. It’s about picking out mistakes we have made and come up with a good game. We still haven’t played our best.”