Not many would have backed Nepal to chase 157 in the second innings after two dismal batting performances; one of those resulted in an 18-run defeat. However, they take lead again (2-1) after chasing 157 in the third T20I against the hosts, Kenya.
Given how Nepal batted in the first two T20Is, 157 was looking daunting total even on the decent surface.
Nepal desperately needed a good start to give themselves any chance to scale what would be the highest-ever successful chase in T20I. Luckily Nepal got the start they wanted. The new looked Opening pair provided a decent start as the pair added 35 runs for the opening wicket before Pawan Sarraf was caught at short fine leg.
Sarraf made 20 off just 12 balls with the help of 3 fours and 1 six. His opening partner and Debutant Arjun Saud scored a promising 35 off 31 balls before the 19-year-old was bowled by Vraj Patel. He shared a handy 41-run partnership with Gyanendra Malla.
Airee, walked in at 4, with some urgency but all he managed to 6 before handing an easy catch to long off fielder while trying to whip through the leg side. Two quick wickets for Nepal meant Kenya are right in the game.
Thanks to the 54 runs partnership between Rohit Paudel (29) and Gyanendra Malla (46) that keep Nepal in the hunt. Another twist in the tale came when Paudel was caught at mid-wicket, attempting to play a pick-up shot.
What looked like a comfortable win turned out to be a bit tricky in the end after losing Malla and Aadil (16). Aarif Sheikh finished the chase with a boundary to seal 4 wickets victory.
Both Eugene Ochieng and Spinner Vraj Patel took two wickets apiece for Kenya.
1st innings story – Poor fielding
The hosts Kenya chose to bat first after winning the toss. Sompal provided the first breakthrough for Nepal when he dismissed Sukhdeep Singh, who was playing for the first time in the series, on 8. Aadil Alam then removed another opener Collins Obuya (14) in his only over bowled in the match.
As it turned out, those were only two wickets to fall in Kenya’s first innings after Irfan Karim (55) and Rakep Patel (73) put an unbroken 127-run stand for the third wicket. Both of them were benefitted from poor fielding by Nepali fielders.
While Karim hit 4 fours and 2 sixes as he notched his sixth half-century in T20I, another senior pro Rakep celebrated his fifth T20I half-century, also his highest score in the format.
The duo hammered Nepal in the final 7 overs as Kenya scored 88 runs without losing any wicket; 56 of those came in the last 4 overs. It was poor fielding on display by the Nepali fielder all-round.
Sandeep Lamichhane’s unbeaten streak of at least a wicket in 26 consecutive T20I finally came to end. His figures read: 4-0-42-0 – the only second-time lamichhane leaked 40-plus runs and didn’t pick any wickets. Airee, who bowled tight 3 overs at the death, was taken apart from 31 runs in his 3 overs.
Gyanendra Malla was awarded the player of the match award for his vital knock – 46(40). The fourth match will be played tomorrow on the same ground.