Victory over Ireland Wolves sets tone for Nepal before travelling to Gujarat


Pathari-Shanishchare, Mar. 27: Defeating Ireland A in both T20s, Nepal will be heading to India with a positive mindset.

Nepal’s senior squad is playing a T20 series against two teams representing Gujarat’s and Baroda’s Cricket Associations from March 31. The series, played for ‘Friendship Cup’, is being hosted by the Sai Meghpan Sportslife in Vapi, Gujarat. 

Before travelling to India, the squad played two T20s against the invited Ireland Wolves, the second-tier squad (A team) of Ireland.

The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), on March 20, revealed a 15-member squad for the Friendship Cup. The same squad confronted Ireland Wolves before the invited side competed in a 3 T20 and 3 ODI series against Nepal A starting March 28. 

With Nepal defeating Ireland A with a good margin in both T20s played on March 25 and 26, Monty Desai’s squad has shown it is well prepared for the challenge in India.

Meanwhile, Nepal has announced its squad, but Gujarat and Baroda, two associations participating in the Ranji Trophy, have not revealed their members yet.

Baroda, which also has Krunal Pandya playing for the team, is captained by Vishnu Solanki. However, Krunal is currently busy in the IPL as he is playing for Lucknow Super Giants. 

Nevertheless, Baroda is still strong. The team reached the quarter-final of the Ranji Trophy 2023/24. Participated by 32 teams divided into four teams of eight each, the top two teams of a group after playing seven matches each in a single round-robin format qualified for the quarter-final.

Baroda finished second in Madhya Pradesh-led Group D. Baroda lost to Mumbai in the quarter-final. Mumbai progressed to lift the trophy defeating Vidarbha in the final played on March 10.

On the other hand, Gujarat’s key player is Axar Patel; however, he is also playing in the IPL from Delhi Capitals. Gujarat finished third in Group C during the Ranji Trophy 2023/24 and could not qualify for the top-eight. 

Nepal win series

Losing to the host by six wickets in the first T20, Ireland A suffered a 71-run defeat in the second. While Nepal chased a paltry target of 122 in the first T20, Nepal defended a massive target of 199 in the second.

Winning the toss and electing to bat first in the TU International Cricket Ground, the middle order took Nepal over the 190-run mark.

Openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh played a cameo before departing for 25 off 16 and 11 off 9 respectively, in-at-three Anil Kumar Sah (12 off 11) could also not do enough.

While Matthew Foster took the wickets of the two openers, Anil was the only victim of Fionn Hand. 

Losing the top three batsmen by the 7th over, youngster Gulshan Jha partnered with skipper Rohit Kumar Paudel to give momentum to Nepal.

The duo partnered for over 50 runs to take Nepal over the 100-run mark. When Jha departed in 13.5 overs, Nepal was at 127/4.

Ben White was welcomed by Gulshan in the 14th over with two consecutive sixes. 

However, White bounced back with two dot balls and got Jha caught in the fifth ball of the over. Jha fell a boundary short of his half-century as he departed at 46 off 32 with the help of one four and four sixes.

Kushal Malla and Sundeep Jora also added runs after Paudel departed in the final ball of the 16th over. Paudel, Malla and Jora scored 33 off 24, 34 off 13 and 21 off 10 respectively. With Jora’s wicket in the final ball of the 20th over, Nepal ended its batting at 198/7.

Ireland A was the second-tier team, but the team had enough hard hitters. Nevertheless, Nepal struggled for the first wicket, and then the wickets of the Wolves kept falling until the team lost all 10 wickets for 127 runs in 18.3 overs.

Opener Stephen Doheny (26 off 13) fell as the first wicket in 4.6 overs and he was followed by his partner Ross Adair (17 off 19) in 5.2 overs. 

Cade Carmichael (run-a-ball 18), Captain Neil Rock (17 off 11), Morgan Topping (21 off 26) and Gareth Delany (15 off 11) were other two digit contributors for the visitors. 

Skipper Paudel used eight bowlers in 19 overs played in the chase. Sompal Kami and Kushal Malla took three wickets each while Karan KC, Kushal Bhurtel and Bibek Yadav took one each.

Sompal, who opened Nepal’s bowling onslaught with the wicket of Stephen, was involved in the penultimate over in the packing of the Wolves. 

He bowled out Liam McCarthy (1) with his pace in the first ball of the 19th over and caught Ben White (0) off his own bowling in the next ball. In the third ball, Gerath was run out by Rohit Paudel in the non-strike end.  

After scalping opener Ross, Kushal Malla completed his three-wicket haul by making Morgan stumped by Aasif Sheikh and catching Gavin Hoey (1) off his own ball in 15.1 and 15.5 over.

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