Kushal Bhurtel became Nepal’s third Twenty20 International centurion as he combined with Dipendra Singh Airee for a record partnership to thrash Philippines by 136 runs in the Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers on Saturday.
Nepal narrowly missed their record 142-run victory over the Netherlands, achieved in April last year, after Abinash Bohora spilled 17 runs in the final over having left minnows Philippines with 219 to chase.
Courtesy a power pakced batting performance, Nepal climbed atop Group B table with four points and a handy net run rate. Canada and Oman are tied on two points each after the latter thumped the north Americans by nine wickets in the other match of the day.
Philppines were making their maiden World Cup Qualifying appearance and were smashed for 216 runs by Canada a day before. In reply, their innings had shut down for 98-5 and on Saturday they woud only muster 82-8.
Sandeep Lamichhane took 3-9 in his miserly four overs, while debutant Gulshan Jha, Jitendra Mukhiya, Abinash, Kushal Malla and Dipendra also picked up a wicket each.
Jordan Alegra (27 not out) and Daniel Smith (20) were the leading scorers for Philippines.
Nepal had a shaky start after they lost Aasif Sheikh (duck) and Kusha Malla (12) with just 36 runs on the board. A watchful Dipendra and Kushal then build on a partnership that easily beat Nepal’s biggest stand in the format of the game.
The duo shared 171 runs for the third wicket surpassing the 145-run partnership from former skipper Paras Khadka and Aarif Sheikh against Singapore during a Tri-Series match in 2018. Paras had struck a 49-ball century in that game becoming the first Nepali batsman to score a entury in Twenty20 Internationals.
Kushal got to the triple figures in 57 deliveries to join the small list that features another former captain Gyanendra Malla who had achived the milestone against Bhutan during the 2019 South Asian Games in Kathmandu.
The sensational opener had come into Oman having scored four half centuries in his first five Twenty20 Internationals and doubled up this time smacking a 61-ball 104 not out with 13 fours and a six.
Dipendra, who himself could have become the fourth centurion, was out for 83 in the penultimate ball of the 19th over. His 47-ball knock included six boundaries and four hits over the fence.
Nepal now take on Canada in a crucial match where a victory will put them in the semi-finals. Even if they lose, net run rate will come into play having tied on points with Canada and Oman provided the latter are not stunned by the Philippines.