By A Staff Reporter , Kathmandu, Apr. 21 : Kushal Bhurtel’s world record three consecutive T20I half-century went in vain as the Netherlands inflicted Nepal three wickets loss at the empty TU Cricket Ground, Kirtipur on Tuesday. The match was played at an empty stadium after the Cricket Association of Nepal, following the government direction, decided to restrict the fans at the ground in the remaining matches of the series. However, hundreds of fans were there to support the home team from outside of the ground. Some were standing at the wall while some are enjoying the show climbing the tree.
After the loss, Nepal have to wait for another match to reach the final of the Tri-Nation Twenty20 International Series. Nepal and the Netherlands both have four points but the host topped the table in run rate.
Half-century cameo from Bhurtel and Dipendra Singh Airee helped Nepal put the imposing 207-run victory target. The explosive 42-ball 81 knock of Bas de Leede led the Dutch side to 209 for six with three balls to spare. The Netherlands chased down 207 after Ben Cooper, de Leede displayed their class with a half-century knock and Captain Pieter Seelaar producing a quick-fire.
Though bowler Sandeep Lammichhane picked four to be the highest wicket-taker in T20I for Nepal with 42 wickets, his four-over spell also became expensive in the defeat of the home. He conceded 48 runs. Karan Kc also was costly for Nepal with his 1-38. Leede hit KC for two successive fours to consummate the match with ease when the visitors needed six runs from six balls.
The visitors bounced back from losing their first centurion Max O’Dowd in 1.3 over. O’ Dowd, who survived Kami in the second ball, was trapped lbw off Sandeep Lamichhane’s googly ball.
Opener Tobias Visse then combined with Ben Cooper to add 51runs for the second wicket before being stumped to Lamichhane in 5.3 overs. Cooper, however, remained untroubled and hit as many boundaries to take the Netherlands to 133 for 3 in 12.5 overs.
Cooper joined the force with de Leede to add 72-run for the third wicket before being caught at square leg by Airee in his attempt to sweep Lamichhane. He reached his eighth T20I half-century off 32 balls. His knock of 35-ball 55 was laced with 10 boundaries.
Leede hit Kushal Malla for four to get his first T20I fifty off 32 balls. His explosive batting included seven boundaries and five maximums.
Captain Seelaar added 49 with Leede for the fifth wicket and left with his attacking knock of 15-ball 31. He cobbled three sixes off Lamichane before being 4th victim of Nepal's global star in 15.5 over.
The visitors lost the wickets of Scott Edwards (2) and Antonius Staal (0) but Leede stood tall and saw his team home though his partners left.
Earlier, openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh were put on a test as Captain Gyanendra Malla choose to bat first after winning the toss. They have been successful with their century partnership in the winning cause while chasing the target.
But the Dutch found the answer to break their partnership in the last ball of the second over. The partnership survived for only 20 runs after Sheikh returned for a duck.
Vivian Kingma, who gave away two boundaries in his first two balls to Bhurtel, picked Sheikh in his last ball of the first spell. Sheikh decided for an aerial shot to Kingma only to get caught at mid-on by Cooper.
Nevertheless, Bhurtel found ably support from Dipendra Singh Airee to add 78 runs for the third wicket. Bhurtel also teamed with Skipper Malla for a 43-run stand for the second wicket.
Bhurtel became the first world’s batsman to score half a century in his first three consecutive T20I matches. He clobbered Dutta over long-off for the maximum to complete his third half-ton in the last ball of 13th over. His record feat included one six and 4 boundaries.
However, he ended with 62 off 46 balls after trying to hit Kingma for third successive boundaries in the 14.3 over. His batting was laced with eight boundaries and one six.
Captain Malla, who strode in after Sheikh, made his stay brief falling to Seelar in the 7th over. He pulled the arm ball straight into the hand of de Leede at deep mid-wicket after garnering 20 off 14 deliveries from 2 fours and 1 six.
Airee also achieved his first T20I fifty off 28 balls. His cameo of 30-ball 60 included 5 sixes and three boundaries. Seelaar holed out Aire by Visse at square leg in his attempt for third successive six.
Kushal Malla (7-ball 18) returned quickly after hitting three entertaining sixes in 16.4 overs. Som Pal Kami kept run ticking in as his 13-ball 21 helped Nepal post 206 for six. Binod Bhandari was not out with run-a-ball 7. Kingma and Seelaar picked two wickets each for the visitors.