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Dipendra stars with bat, Abinash with ball as Nepal draw first blood

Dipendra Singh Airee notched up his career best score as Nepal drew first blood in their Quadrangular Twenty20 International Series campaign defeating hosts Oman by six wickets on Friday.

Putting in an allround display in a tournament that serves as preparation ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers beginning February 18, Nepal restricted Oman to an ordinary total of 135-6 before Dipendra led the attack and crossed the finishing line with three balls to spare.

After being reduced to 22-2 with both openers Aasif Sheikh (14) and Pradeep Airee (four) falling cheaply to fast bowler Kaleemullah, Dipendra not only consolidated the Nepali innings but also finished the game with a professional chase.

He added 40 runs for the third wicket with former skipper Gyanendra Malla (13) and got involved in a defining 45-run partnership with Aarif Sheikh taking the team to victory. The momentum shifted towards Nepal when Aarif and Dipendra collected 16 runs from the 15th over bowled by Kaleemullah.

It left Nepal with 39 to win from 30 deliveries. Aarif fell to leg spinner Khawar Ali after making a 20-ball 25 with three boundaries. Dipendra completed his half century in the same over with a boundary to reach his second T20I 50 in 46 balls.

He then stepped out to hit a six next ball as he continued to play with more freedom. Nepal needed nine runs in the final over bowled by Mohammad Nadeem and Dipendra sealed the deal hitting the medium pacer for 10 runs in the first three deliveries that included two hits to the fence.

Man-of-the-match Dipendra was unbeaten on a 53-ball 73, his innings studded with eight fours and a six.

Abinash Bohora was the star performer with the ball returning the figures of 3-26 from four overs. PHOTO: Kaushal Adhikari

Earlier, in his first match as Nepal captain star leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane used seven bowlers and it reaped benefit as Oman were tottering at 58-4 by the 10th over. Skipper Zeeshan Maqsood and Nadeem then stemmed the wicket flow with a 61-run stand.

Just when Oman were trying to up the ante, Abinash Bohora struck twice in a single over to halt Oman. He conceded just 12 runs in his last two overs and returned the figures of 3-26 from four overs.

Kamal Singh Airee took 1-25, while Sandeep and Aarif also got a wicket apiece. Dipendra also bowled economically giving away just 21 runs in four overs.

Zeeshan top scored with a 41-ball 43 not out hitting four boundaries and a six. Nadeem made 30-ball 31 with two boundaries. Nepal’s debutant Sagar Dhakal was hit for 35 runs in his first three overs of international cricket.

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