Nepal marked one of the greatest days of their cricket history defeating the Netherlands by two wickets in a low-scoring thriller at the United Cricket Club ground in Windhoek, Namibia on Sunday.
It was the biggest match in Nepali cricket considering the experience of the Netherlands who have played four World Cups and are one of the oldest Associate teams to participate in the world cricket’s extravaganza.
The victory was sweet revenge for Nepal who had lost to the Netherlands by three wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in January last year in New Zealand. The victory also brought Nepal back in the tournament and probably fancying them a chance in the Division-I promotion.
It was bowlers once again who did the job for Nepal bundling out the Dutch for just 158 in 49.5 overs following a collective effort. Nepal were stunned when two wickets in two balls from Mudassar Bukhari reduced Nepal to 5-2 but they crawled to victory with useful contributions from the middle order before reaching 158-8 with three balls to spare.
After losing opener Naresh Budhayer (one) and Gyanendra Malla (golden duck), another opener Subash Khakurel and skipper Paras Khadka offered a brief resistance with a 30-run stand. Subash made 15 off 51 before losing his wicket to Michael Rippon.
Coach Pubudu Dassanayake then gambled by promoting explosive batsman Binod Bhandari at No 5, a move that ultimately worked. In a condition where other batsmen were struggling, Bhandari slammed three sixes on his way to making 35 off 30. He shared 34 runs for the fourth wicket and saw his skipper out for 19 off 57 balls.
Bhandari was next to go with the scores reading 88-5 in 27.3 overs. Sagar Pun (13) and Sharad Vesawkar then added 18 runs before Nepal lost two wickets in a space of three runs. Sagar was first to go followed by Basanta Regmi (six).
The match came to life when Sompal Kami and Sharad shared a match-winning 33 runs for the eighth wicket with the former’s 28-ball 24 with three boundaries making the difference. Sharad did the rest with Shakti Gauchan (two not out) making an all-important 24 off 53. Rippon and Ahsan Malik picked up two wickets each for the Netherlands.
Earlier, the Dutch innings revolved around two crucial knocks from Rippon and opener Stephan Myburgh who returned to the field after retiring hurt when his team had put on 23-1. Man-of-the-match Rippon made 53 off 117 balls with two boundaries, while Myburgh chipped in 36 off 73.
Bukhari also played a cameo of 23-ball 19 hitting a six and a four. Paras, Sompal, Basanta and Shakti picked up two wickets each. Karan KC put on a disciplined effort returning with 10-0 from seven overs. Nepal will now meet Canada in their third match on Tuesday at the Wanderers.