Malla, Sheikh share record stand as home team beat Namibia by three wickets

Biratnagar, February 18

Nepal beat Namibia by three wickets to register their first-ever third straight victory in the One Day International Tri-series under the ICC Cricket World Cup League-II here at the TU Stadium today.

Invited to bat first, Namibia posted a challenging 274-6 in their allotted 50 overs before the home team rode on half centuries from Gyanendra Malla, Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Malla to reach 278-7 with 15 balls to spare. Nepal chased down 270-plus total for the third straight match - twice against Namibia and once against Scotland - in the current series.

Chasing a modest target, Nepal lost opener Kushal Bhurtel (one) in the first ball of the third over with just nine runs on the board, Aasif Sheikh and Gyanendra Malla revived the innings with a record 139-run partnership for the second wicket. Malla was the first to go, caught for 65 off 74 balls that included five fours and three sixes, after scoring his seventh ODI half century.

The 139-run partnership is all-time high in ODIs for Nepal that broke the previous mark of 133 runs shared by Kushal Bhurtel and skipper Rohit Paudel against Namibia four days ago. The previous best stand for the second wicket was 122 runs shared by Sheikh and Malla against the UAE in November last year.

After Malla was dismissed in the 27th over, Sheikh followed soon as Nepal were reduced to 169-3. Player-of-the-match Sheikh struck eight boundaries and two sixes in his 98-ball 81, his sixth ODI half century.

Kushal Malla and skipper Rohit Paudel then added 92 runs for the fourth wicket to ease Nepal's chase. The home team lost four more wickets in the space of 13 runs before Sompal Kami (eight not out) completed the formality with a winning boundary.

Kushal Malla scored a quick fire 62 off 49 balls with the help of six fours and four sixes, whereas Paudel struck five boundaries in his 43-ball 39.

Ruben Trumpelmann was the pick of the Namibia bowlers taking 3-71, while Bernard Scholtz grabbed 2-42.

Tangeni Lungameni and Pikky Ya France pocketed one wicket each.

Earlier, Namibia added 115 runs in the last powerplay to post a challenging total on the board. They were struggling at 134-4 after 35 overs but the poor death bowling from the home team allowed the tourists to score freely in the latter stage of the innings. Karan KC conceded 25 runs in the final over, while Sompal Kami was hit for 17 in the previous one as Namibia collected 84 runs in the last five overs.

Zane Green top scored for Namibia with an unbeaten 75 off just 63 balls that included 11 boundaries and a six, while Pikky Ya France hit four fours and three sixes in his 39-ball 49. They added 94 runs for the sixth wicket. Green and Ruben Trumplemann then shared a 42-run partnership for the unbroken seventh wicket.

Nepal had reduced Namibia to 138-5 after Sandeep Lamichhane removed openers Karl Birkenstock (20) and Lo-Handre Louwrens in the space of three runs but Green built the innings with two crucial partnerships.

Louwrens hit eight fours in his 54-ball 41, while Trumplemann remained unbeaten on 24 off just seven balls that included three boundaries and two sixes. Michael van Lingen (22), skipper Gerhard Erasmus (15) and Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton (15) also contributed in double figures.

Lamichhane was the pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 3-46 from 10 overs, while Karan KC claimed one. With the day's figures, Lamichhane completed 50 wickets in the League-II series and became third player to achieve the feat in 23 matches and first spin bowler overall. Lamichhane, who made ODI debut in 2018, has so far claimed 78 wickets in 33 matches.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 19, 2023, of The Himalayan Times.