Bhurtel becomes first Nepali batsman to score two consecutive half centuries in T20I cricket


Openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh shared century partnership for the second straight match as Nepal thrashed Malaysia by nine wickets in the Bajaj Pulsar Tri-Nation Series here at the TU Stadium today.

Invited to take the first strike after Nepal skipper Gyanendra Malla won the toss, Malaysia were bowled out for 109 runs in 16.5 overs. The home team then raced to 113-1 with 47 balls to spare to record second consecutive victory.

After the completion of the first round, Nepal are at the top of the table with four points, while the Netherlands are second with two and Malaysia are yet to open their accounts.

The three teams will play against each other one more time and top two sides will make it to the final scheduled for Saturday.

Chasing a 110-run target, openers Bhurtel and Sheikh hit the Malaysian bowlers all over the park and added runs freely. The duo - who put on 116 runs to post the highest opening stand for Nepal while chasing a 137-run target against the Netherlands on Saturday - came close to finishing off the match with a 102-run stand in 11 overs but Sheikh holed out to Virandeep Singh with just eight runs remaining for the victory.

Sheikh struck four boundaries and a six in his 29-ball 42 before he was caught at cover by Anwar Rahman while trying to play a big shot on a short-of-length ball from Singh.

Bhurtel and Dipendra Singh Airee completed the formality without further loss.

Bhurtel, who completed his 50 off just 26 balls to become the first Nepali batsman to score back-to-back half century, remained unbeaten on 61 off 41 balls that included three boundaries and five sixes.

Vice-captain Airee struck a four in his three-ball six.

Earlier, Malaysia were never comfortable against the Nepali attack. Karan KC made the breakthrough in the second over when he had Anwar Arudin (eight) caught behind by Binod Bhandari with just 17 runs on the board. Skipper Ahmad Faiz (three) was run out, while Sompal Kami bowled Virandeep Singh to reduce Malaysia to 45-3 in seven overs.

Nepal skipper Malla used seven bowlers and six of them struck at regular interval as Malaysia failed to build partnership.

Opener Syed Aziz top scored with 24-ball 27 hitting four boundaries and a six, while Sharvin Muniandy (20) and Shafiq Sharif (15) were the only batsmen who contributed in double figures for Malaysia.

Karan KC was the pick of the Nepali bowlers taking 3-17 from three overs and he was later adjudged the man of the match, while star legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane claimed 2-25 from 3.5 overs. Kushal Malla got his first T20I wicket, while Kami, Airee and Shahab Alam also pocketed one each for the home team.

On Tuesday, Nepal will take on the Netherlands in the first match of the second round.

The match will be played behind closed doors after the government decided to impose restrictions on spectators in its bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 20, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.