Nepal stays alive in T20 tri-series defeating Namibia by 3 runs


Kathmandu, Mar. 2: Getting the first win of the T20I Tri-series against the Richelieu Eagles on Friday, Nepal is alive in the tournament against Namibia and the Netherlands. 

Facing the Namibian side in the second face-off of the Tri-series, Nepal was finally able to defeat the Southern African nation in the duo’s fourth confrontation. Namibia defeated Nepal in the two matches of the inaugural League 2 tri-series on February 15 and 21 followed by the third consecutive win in the opening match of the recent T20 tri-series on February 27.

However, defeating Namibia on Friday, Nepal ended its losing streak at the TU International Cricket Ground as the host failed to register a win against the Netherlands and Namibia in the past four matches since February 21.

If Nepal had failed to win the match against Namibia, Nepal would have been out of the competition with one match remaining. Now, Nepal, if defeats the Dutch side today (March 2), has a chance to get to the final on March 5 as the top two teams of the tri-series 

Host’s decent target

Nepal was asked to bat first after Namibia won the toss. With Anil Kumar Sah replacing Kushal Bhurtel as the opener with Aasif Sheikh, Nepal lost its first wicket in the first ball of the second over as Aasif got bowled out by Ben Shikongo.

It did not take Nepal long to lose three more wickets. Skipper Rohit Kumar Paudel got caught out at 9 runs off 10 balls while playing a short ball towards the mid-off region. While Anil, with three maximums, added 23 runs, he got caught behind the stumps in the 17th ball he faced as Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton bowled the seventh over of the match.

Gulshan Jha, sent up the order at four against Namibia, was able to pose a threat to the opponent after a long time. However, after hitting three sixes and a four and contributing 26 runs off 16 deliveries, Jha got struck leg-before in the 8th over. 

But after losing four wickets for 64 runs in 7.2 overs, Nepal got relief as Aarif Sheikh and Kushal Malla partnered for over 50 runs. When Aarif (31 off 24) departed as the fifth wicket, Nepal was at 149 runs in 16.3 overs.

Registering a half-century, Malla (55 off 37), staying not out, was able to take the team to 180/8 by the end of the first inning. Dipendra Singh Airee (16 off 8) was the only other batsman to score in double figures. 

Shikongo bagged three wickets in total for Namibia while the team’s T20I debutant Jack Brassell took two. Trumpelmann, Loftie-Eaton and Bernard Scholtz also took one each.

Nail-biting defence Namibia, with a batting line-up of enough hard hitters, was more than capable of chasing the target of 181 runs. However, Nepal defended the decent target of 181 by restricting the Eagles to 177/7 at the end of the 20 overs in the chase.

Claiming three wickets – Michael van Lingen (10 off 12), Malan Kruger (3 off 5) and JP Kotze (25 off 22) – in the first eight overs, Nepal was able to keep the momentum in its favour. 

However, skipper JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck turned the tides in the middle order as they partnered for over 50 runs. Smit played a captain’s knock as he registered a half-century in 25 deliveries. Nevertheless, Airee broke the lock in the 16th over and brought Nepal back to the game as he sent Smit back to the dugout in the next ball after reaching 50. Moreover, Airee raised the roof at TU as he was on a hat-trick after T20I’s fastest centurian Loftie-Eaton, who entered after Smit’s wicket, was caught for a golden duck in the very next delivery.

Yet, Nepal was still on a tightrope as low-order batsmen Trumpelmann and wicketkeeper Zane Green could hit large boundaries.

Namibia had four wickets in hand with 12 runs required to win the match in the last over. However, Karan KC said ‘no’ with his spell.

Giving four runs in the first four deliveries with a wide, KC rescued Nepal as Sundeep Jora caught out Trumpelmann in the fifth ball of the final over. And despite skipper Scholtz coming and hitting the final ball for a four, Nepal won the match by three runs.

“It was an incredible effort from Karan KC in the last over with the experience he carries as we have seen with the Netherlands’ Roelof van der Merwe,” shared skipper Paudel in the post-match conference after the win on Friday.

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