Nepal lose final practice match in UAE

Kathmandu, February 2

Nepal national cricket team faced a 64-run loss against the ‘A’ team of the United Arab Emirates in the third and final practice match at the ICC Academy Oval in Dubai today.

Nepal, who won the first two matches, were packed for a paltry 151 runs in 38.5 overs while chasing a mediocre target of 216 runs. Batting first, the home side had posted 215-9 in 50 overs.

Nepal had reduced the UAE ‘A’ to 56-5 in 22 overs before two crucial partnerships turned the home side’s favour. Chirag Suri and Atirur Rehman took the total past three digits with a 46-run partnership for the sixth wicket before the former added 98 runs with Ali Mirza for the seventh wicket.

Suri top scored with 85 off 102 balls hitting 10 boundaries, while Mirza remained unbeaten on 48-ball 42 that included two fours. Rehman struck four boundaries in his 41-ball 33. Opener Fahad Nawaz (17) and Saqlain Haider (13) also chipped in important runs for the home team.

Sompal Kami was the pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 3-56, while Lalit Bhandari grabbed 2-46. Skipper Paras Khadka, Basant Regmi and Sandeep Lamichhane also bagged one wicket each.

In reply, Nepal fell in early trouble losing opener Dilip Nath (naught) and Sharad Vesawkar (one) with just eight runs on the board. Another opener Gyanendra Malla and skipper Khadka added 40 runs for the third wicket before the vice-captain fell for 24 off 26 that included four boundaries.

After Khadka lost his wicket in the 18th over, Nepali batsmen failed to build partnerships and the last five wickets fell for just 19 runs. Khadka top scored with 41 off 55 balls hitting four boundaries, while Dipendra Singh Airee contributed 26 off 31 balls hitting four fours. Md Aarif Sheikh (19) and Rohit Kumar Paudel (21) got good starts but failed to convert them into big knocks.

Karthik Mayappan of UAE ‘A’ was the chief destroyer taking 4-32, while Hazrat Bilal and Maatiullah Khan claimed two wickets each.

The Nepali team is scheduled to leave for Namibia on Sunday to participate in the ICC World Cricket League Division-II. Six nations — Nepal, Namibia, the UAE, Kenya, Oman and Canada — will take part in the event slated for February 8-15 in Windhoek.

Top two teams in the Namibia tournament will earn berth in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers to be held next month in Zimbabwe.

Nepal will take on hosts Namibia in the opening match at the WAP Ground on February 8 before playing against Oman the following day. Nepal will then face the UAE in their third match on February 11 and will meet Kenya the next day at the Wanderers Cricket Ground. Nepal will end the league campaign with a match against Canada at the Wanderers on February 14.

After the round robin matches, top two teams will advance to the final and will earn berths in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe from March 2-25.