By Pramod Joshi , Kathmandu, Apr. 18 : The record-breaking first-wicket partnership between debutants duo Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh eased Nepal to a nine-wicket victory over the Netherlands to start the Tri-Nation T20 Internationals Series on a winning note at TU Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Opting to field first, Nepal managed to limit the Netherlands to 135/4 in 20 overs. Nepal rode on the fastest half-century knock from Bhurtel and fifty off Sheikh to achieve the victory scoring 141/1 with 30 balls to spare.
Bhurtel and Sheikh opened the batting brilliantly for Nepal with both making the record 116 runs for the first wicket partnership. Their collaboration was the highest opening partnership for Nepal. Earlier the highest first-wicket partnership was 108 runs between Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla.
Debutant Bhurtel stole the limelight with his stroke-filled 62 runs that included five sixes and five fours. He touched his first international fifty in 7.6 overs. He hit a boundary, played a dot and took a single off Philippe Boissevain to complete his milestone in 30 balls, which also included five boundaries and four sixes.
It was also the fastest fifty smashed by Nepali batsman in T20 internationals. After Sandeep Jora, Bhurtel became the second Nepali to score a half-century in a debut match. Bhurtel also took away the man of the match trophy.
Aasif also touched his first international fifty hitting six to Philippe in 13.4 overs. He smashed four boundaries and four sixes off 36 balls to become the third Nepali batsman to hit fifty in a debut. He finished with not-out 38-ball 54.
Captain Gyanendra Malla smashed six to Julian de Mey to kill the match for Nepal. Malla contributed not out 7-ball 13 for home. Mey was the only wicket-taker for the visitors.
Captain Malla was happy about the brilliant show from the debutants. “The bowling was overall good as we were able to restrict them to below 140 runs. I am happy for the debutant Bhurtel and Sheikh who led Nepal to victory with their brilliant performance.”
Earlier, Netherlands posted a modest total as Scott Edwards and Bas de Leede anchored the visitor’s innings by adding 61 runs for the third wicket partnership. They came in rescue for the Netherlands after bowler Sandeep Lamichhane and Som Pal Kami took quick two wickets.
Leggie Lamichhane gave the breakthrough in the 1.5 over by trapping Max O’Dowd (10) to lbw. Pacer Kami also took the wicket of Ben Cooper (0) quickly trapping him for lbw in 2.4 over.
However, the wicket of Edwards provided some relief to the thousands of Nepali fans, who braved the COVID-19 fear to watch the international match at TU Ground after a long gap. As Edward tried to hit second successive six off debutant Shahab Alam in 13.5 over, Kami caught him at long-on. Edward hit 32-ball 30 that included one six and two boundaries.
Left-arm spinner Alam broke the crucial partnership of Dutch to pick his maiden wicket in the T20 internationals. Alam, however, became a costly bowler for home as he conceded 45 runs from his four-over spell.
Leede also returned in the last ball of 17th over as he tried to reverse sweep Lamichhane only to be caught by Bhurtel at short third man. Leede hit two sixes and three boundaries to top score with 49-ball 41 for the Netherlands.
Captain Peter Seelaar chipped in with 23 runs from 17 balls that included one six and two fours. Antonius contributed with his quick-fire 9-ball 20. He also smashed one maximum and two balls to the rope.
Karan KC and Abinash Bohara ended without a wicket as they spent 22 and 25 runs respectively from their four overs spell.
Malla’s counterpart Seelaar said the host side was better in every aspect. “The opener Bhurtel has the great innings.
The no-ball decision given by Umpire when Bhurtel was caught was the turning point of the match. Nevertheless, we will work to give cent per cent effort in the next match,” Captain Seelaar said.