Khadka, bowlers deliver incredible Nepal victory

Nepal Cricket team selfie

Nepal 217 for 9 (Khadka 84, Pun 45, Malla 39, Rippon 4-35) beat Netherlands 198 (Van der Merwe 56, Gruijters 44, Khadka 2-19) by 19 runs Full Scorecard

A sublime batting performance by the captain Paras Khadka and a combined bowling performance led by skipper himself was just about enough for Nepal as they beat the table-toppers Netherlands by 19 runs in a World Cricket League Championship fixture here in VRA Ground, Amsterdam.

The home side once again won the toss and opted to bowl first on a bright sunshine morning, slightly different from the mild overcast conditions on the first match. Nepali openers made a decent start with Gyanendra Malla doing the bulk of the scoring in the partnership. Anil Mandal 5(33) and Sharad Vesawkar 6(15) went cheaply but Malla kept the scorecard ticking, albeit in a slower pace than what Nepal would have ideally liked. After some excellent pushes through covers for runs, a stylish straight drive and a hook for a six, Malla was dismissed for 39 leaving Nepal in a delicate situation of 65-3 in the 20th over.

What followed thereafter will perhaps remain in the hearts and minds of Nepali fan for a long long while. Paras Khadka started his innings with a reasonable caution but once he was set, he started scoring boundaries for will. His excellent punches over covers and mid off and a majestic six over cow corner brought loud cheers among the Nepali contingent in the crowd and the media box. Sagar Pun slowly but steadily kept on giving skipper a good assist. He struck his first boubdary on the 65th ball he faced and managed a handy 45 runs of 78 balls. Khadka, though was on a world of his own as he looked well set for a hundred. However it was not to be with his brilliant innings cut short by Ahsan Malik for 84. Once both the set batsmen were dismissed for quick succession, the match saw some hits and giggles. A couple of sixes by Binod Bhandari, some dropped catches and some easy wickets taken by Michael Rippon meant Nepal scored 217 for the loss of 9 wickets in their allotted 50 overs.

Having been set a modest total to chase, Ditch batsmen did not start their innings on a positive note as they were soon reduced to 21 for 3. Khadka, opening the innings with his medium pacers, once again turned out to be chief destroyer as he picked up the important wickets of Stephen Myburgh and Wesley Baressi. Max O’Dowd and former South Africa international Reolef van der Merwe steadied the ship with a brilliant stand of 82 runs. Merwe in particular was severe against any lose balls bowled as he quickly raced to a well compiled half century.

At 3-103 and the match interestingly poised, captain turned to his young leggie Sandeep Lamichhane and he immediately struck the most telling blow of the match, bowling Merwe (56) round his legs. Nepali spinners got an opening and quickly spun their way into 140 for 6 in 38 overs with Sagar Pun and Shakti Gauchan taking a wicket each. However with a match with never ending ebbs and flows, another twist had to happen. Tim Gruijters and Timm van der Gugren added 53 more runs  taking match to an interesting point –  home side needed 26 runs of 18 balls. The scars of losing to Papua New Guinea in similar situation was starting to haunt Nepali fans in ground and social media alike.Skipper handed over the ball to veteran Basant Regmi, the “Crisis Man” of Nepali cricket. Regmi once again lived up to his reputation and picked up two wickets in the over including well set Gruijters whom he bowled for 44. Sompal Kami removed Gugten next over and a run out later, Nepal were celebrating one of its most famous victories. Nepal had won by 19 runs and thereby registered their first away win in the championship.

Skipper Khadka was deservedly awarded Man of the Match for his all-round performance. With the win Nepal retain their sixth position in the table with 6 points, exactly the same as fifth-placed Kenya, who have a better Net Run Rate than Nepal. Despite their first loss in the championship, Netherlands stay at the top with 12 points from 8 matches.

A serious guy who makes silly points. Also a cricket tragic whose only on-field achievement is witnessing 6 runs as byes in a single ball.