Nepal defeated Namibia by five wickets to open their account in the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) at the Tribhuvan University Stadium on Saturday.
With another game against the Namibians set for Monday, Nepal climbed to sixth from the bottom in the eight-team tournament that offers ICC World Cup Qualifiers spot for the top four teams. Nepal, Namibia and United Arab Emirates have two points each with the former edging the latter two teams on net run rate.
Netherlands lead the table with 10 points from six games and behind them are Hong Kong (nine) and Scotland (seven) with both teams also playing six games. Kenya (six) and Papua New Guinea (four) are ahead of Nepal as both teams have one round – two matches – in hand.
Sharad Vesawkar and Binod Bhandari were the heroes with the bat against Namibia after Nepal restricted the visitors to 195-9 in 50 overs. Nepal were struggling at 113-5 in 32.4 overs before Sharad and Bhandari shared an unbeaten 84 run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Nepal had a modest start when new opening pair of Gyanendra Malla and Naresh Budhayer (16) added 42 runs for the first wicket. Gyanendra hit a four in his 40-ball 21 and Budhayer had a six in his 30-ball innings before both batsmen fell in a space of four runs.
Sharad, promoted to No 3, shared 32 runs with Paras Khadka but Nepal were stunned when they lost their skipper for 21 off 32 in an innings studded with two fours and a six.
Rookie Raju Rijal (six) and Rajesh Pulami Magar (nine) couldn't do much as half of Nepal's playing XI was back to the pavilion with the team needing 83 to win from 110 balls.
Bhandari eased the pressure smashing three quick sixes upon his arrival. The three big hits had the asking rate under Nepal's control and the two batsmen negotiated with the total professional before Sharad hit the winning boundary to complete the team's chase and his half century.
Sharad made 50 off 99 with three boundaries, his first four came in the 74th ball of his innings. Bhandari also had a four in his 49-ball 40. Sarel Burger and Gerrie Snyman picked up two wickets each for Namibia.
Earlier, Nepali spinners took control of the game after Sompal Kami gave the early breakthrough. He dismissed openers Stephan Baard (18) and Zane Green (12) after the openers provided Namibia a quickfire start collecting 25 runs in the first two overs.
Sandeep Lamichhane took wicket in his debut for national team and impressed with the figures of 1-37 from 10 overs. Basanta Regmi was the pick of the Nepali bowlers snaring 3-40 from 10 overs.
Paras, who switched to spin after two overs of medium pace, also tightened the screw returning the figures of 1-34 from his 10 with three maiden overs. Shakti Gauchan was wicketless but proved economical with conceding just 28 runs in 10 overs.
Namibia were reeling at 109-6 in 25.1 overs before Burger and JJ Smit pushed the team close to 200. Burger top scored with a 77-ball 38 that included four hits to the fence. Smit made 26 off 22 with two sixes and a four.
Pikky Ya France (26), Gerhard Erasmus (25) and Snyman (23) were other notable scorers for Namibia.