Nepal loses T20 World Cup opener to the Netherlands


Kathmandu, June 5: It was not a start that Nepal wanted, but the team and fans were proud of posing a threat to the Netherlands despite posting a paltry target. Nepal posted a target of 107 runs which the Dutch side chased in 18.4 overs with six wickets remaining as both teams played their first match of the 9th edition of the T20 World Cup.

The 15,000-seat-capacity Grand Prairie Stadium in Dallas, Texas, was packed with Nepali jerseys making it a ‘home away from home’ for the young Nepali squad representing the country in the biggest stage of T20 cricket for the second time; the first being a decade ago.

“First of all, I am not sure if we are in Nepal or Dallas” Logan van Beek of the Netherlands shared in a short talk after the first inning against Nepal as both teams. 

Nepal and the Netherlands have been regular competitors in Associate cricket; the Dutch side had travelled to Nepal for two tri-series including Namibia in February-March this year. 

While Grand Prairie buzzed throughout the match with the chants of ‘Nepal’ in broad daylight, millions of Nepalis back home were awake at midnight supporting the team through thick and thin. The crowd at Tundikhel, Kathmandu, was a sight to behold. Similarly, the President and the Prime Minister alongside other government officials were also watching the match with their respective families.

Nail-biting match

Nepal was asked to bat first by the Netherlands as Scott Edwards won the toss. Playing on a pitch familiar to the Dutch side and somehow unique for Nepal, the wickets kept falling for the team until the final one in 19.2 overs. Nepal was bundled out for 106 runs.

Openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh, and middle-order batsmen Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee and Sompal Kami failed to reach the double figures. Anil Kumar Sah, Gulshan Jha and Karan KC added 11, 14 and 17 runs respectively; but they were insufficient.

It was skipper Rohit Kumar Paudel who held his ground; however, lacked support. Paudel added 35 off 37 before departing as the seventh wicket in the 16th over. 

It was doubtful if Nepal could defend such a low target. A silenced crowd of Nepali fans was, however, revived to life by Sompal Kami as he took the wicket of Michael Levitt in 1.2 overs.  

Nevertheless, as the other opener, Max O’Dowd, remained in the crease, he took the team to the win. Nepal was able to restrict the Dutch side from hitting boundaries, but in lack of wickets, Nepal could not defend the target.

Moreover, when Max was dropped in the 18th over, Nepal’s minimum chances for the win were shattered. Max scored a four and a six, the only one by the Netherlands in the inning, in the first two balls of the 19th over and assured the win. In the loss of four wickets, the Netherlands chased 107 runs in 18.4 overs.

Nepal still has matches with Sri Lanka, South Africa and Bangladesh.

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