Kushal Malla became world’s youngest half centurion in One
Day Internationals as the youngster marked an unforgettable debut handing Nepal
a 35-run victory over USA in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 match in
Kiritpur on noisy Saturday at the TU grounds.
At 15 years and 340 days, Kushal bailed out Nepal from a
sinkhole with an 84-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Binod Bhandari
leading the hosts to what ultimately was a challenging 190 all out in 49.2
overs. The left hander returned to pick up 1-30 from 10 overs before USA were 155
all out in 44.1 overs.
His best came with the bat after he broke compatriot Rohit
Kumar Paudel’s one-year world record as world’s youngest batsman with a half
century. Rohit had achieved the feat last year against the UAE in the second
ODI of the bilateral series eclipsing the likes of Indian batting legend Sachin
Tendulkar and Pakistan’s flamboyant allrounder Shahid Afridi.
Rohit then was 16 years and 146 days old. On Saturday, Kushal
was replacing Rohit in the middle order after the former was out for a duck in
the first match against Oman.
Seamer Karan KC and leggie Sandeep Lamichhane gave Nepal a
dream start in their defense picking up two wickets between them to reduce the
US to 13-4. Wednesday’s debutant Sushan Bhari joined the attack and pick up two
wickes before Kushal picked up his first ODI wicket as the Americans caved in.
From 65-7 in 21.1 overs, Ian Holland defied the Nepali
bowling attack with two partnerships that at some stage of the game silenced
the Nepali supporters. He shared 49 runs for the eighth wicket with Cameron
Stevenson (19) and 30 for the ninth with Rusty Theron before Karan KC undid him
with a sharp bouncer.
Holland made 75 off 111 balls with seven boundaries.
Man-of-the-match Karan took 4-15 from 7.1 overs, while Bhari picked up 3-42.
The Nepali seamer has now reached eight wickets in two games. Bhari also has
six scalps in his first two ODI matches for Nepal.
Earlier, Subash Khakurel (three) fell early in his comeback
match after replacing injured Sharad Vesawkar. Paras Khadka and skipper
Gyanendra Malla tried to steady the Nepali innings with a 40-run partnership
for the second wicket.
Nepal then suffered a mini collapse losing four wickets in
three balls that began with the dismissal of Gyanendra (21) followed by Paras
(19), Dipendra Singh Airee (duck) and Aarif Sheikh (two).
Debutant Kushal and Binod Bhandari bailed out Nepal from the
trouble with a match-winning 84-run partnership. Kushal looked positive with
his body language smacking bowlers for six whenever it fell into his zone. He
completed his half century in 50 deliveries and struck three sixes and four
also went on to make his maiden One Day International half century reaching the
milestone in 62 deliveries. Bhandari fell for a 79-ball 59 with six boundaries
and a six. Cameron Stevenson picked up 3-30 for the US and Saurav Netravalkar
impressed taking 2-28 from 10. Both bowlers kept two maiden each.