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Kushal-Aasif record show hands Nepal big win over Dutch

Kushal Bhurtel smacked fastest half century for Nepal in Twenty20 International debut and got involved in a record breaking opening wicket partnership with Aasif Sheikh as the hosts cruised to a crushing nine-wicket victory in the Tri-Nation Twenty20 International Series on Saturday.

Kushal and Aasif, also on debut, added a record 116 runs for the first wicket that saw Nepal overhaul Netherlands’ 136-4 in just 15 overs replying with 142-1.

Kushal and Aasif broke the previous best record of 108 runs set by former skipper Paras Khadka and current captain Gyanendra Malla during the 13th South Asian Games in 2019 against Bhutan.

Netherlands were playing for the first time in Nepal, first time in 14 months and that combined with huge crowd pressure and disciplined Nepali bowling attack to get folded for an ordinary total.

Kushal, who was out on the second ball but was reprieved after Vivian Kingma was found to have crossed the line, didn’t look back scoring runs at his will. Smashing Aryan Dutt for two sixes in the second over, Kushal raced to 32 in just 18 balls, while Aasif was batting on four.

He completed his half century off just 30 balls and was out for a 46-ball 62 that included five sixes and as many boundaries. Aasif looked equally flawless and completed his half century in 36 balls with a six off Julian de Mey.

Aasif scored 54 off 38 with four each sixes and boundaries. Skipper Gyanendra Malla, who sealed the game with a six, was unbeaten on 13 off seven balls.

Earlier, Sandeep Lamichhane struck in the team’s second and his first over to get rid of opener Max O’Dowd (10). Sompal Kami trapped Ben Cooper leg before as Netherlands were pushed to back foot.

Scott Edwards and Bas de Leede tried to revive the innings with a 61-run partnership. However, Netherlands didn’t get the lift they would have liked. Everytime they hit big sixes, Nepal fought back to keep it tight.

De Leede top scored for the Dutch with a 49-ball 41 with three fours and two sixes. Edwards chipped in 32-ball 30 hitting two fours and a six.

Pieter Seelar (23) and Antonious Staal (20) pushed them towards a respectable total with a 36-run partnership. Sandeep took 2-22 from four overs for Nepal. Sompal returned miserly figures of 1-13 from four overs.

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