Nepal needed a face-saving 52-run partnership between Rohit Kumar Paudel and Sompal Kami to beat Papua New Guinea by two wickets in their first of the two-match One Day International Series in Muscat, Oman on Tuesday.
Nepal were without vice-captain Dipendra Singh Airee, Binod Bhandari and Karan KC as despite the top order providing a brisk start, the middle order collapse before Rohit and Sompal set sail the ship.
PNG’s decision to bat first backfired after Sandeep Lamichhane picked up four wickets and was ably supported by two scalps apiece from Kushal Malla, Sompal and Bikram Sob to dismiss the opponents for just 134 runs in 33 overs.
The new opening pair of Kushal Bhurtel (15) and Aasif Sheikh continued to yield fruit after they added 46 runs for the first wicket. Nepal, however, lost seven wickets with the addition of just 36 runs only to be rescued by Rohit and Sompal to reach 135-8 in 39.3 overs.
Rohit contributed an invaluable 41 from 65 balls with two boundaries. Sompal hit a six and a four in his 32-ball 22 not out.
Nepal were going well before Chad Soper, Gaudi Toka and Damien Ravu took two wickets each reducing them to 82-7. Skipper Gyanendra Malla (six), Aarif Sheikh (nine), Sharad Vesawkar (six), Kushal Malla (one) and Pawan Sarraf (duck) all fell cheaply.
Aasif looked in good form making 30 off 46 with four boundaries. Toka took 3-18 from 4.3 overs for PNG who went on to suffer their second defeat in 50-over game against Nepal.
Earlier, Bikram was handed a debut in place of Karan and he paid back with first ball dismissal of Tony Ura (one) in the game’s second over. He became the 26th debutant in ODIs to pick up a wicket in the first ball and seventh among the Associate cricketers.
His dismissal of Assad Vala (four) reduced PNG to 9-2. Lega Siaka and Charles Amini offered a brief resistance with a 50-run partnership but once Sandeep had Amini caught by Aasif in his first over, PNG struggle resumed.
Siaka top scored for PNG with a 38-ball 30 that included a six and a four. Amini made 23 and Toka scored 22. Man-of-the-match Sandeep returned the figures of 4-34 from 10 overs. The second and final ODI is on Friday.