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Nepal go down fighting against Oman but stay alive

Nepal went down fighting against Oman in defense of a low total losing by two wickets in their third match of the ACC Premier League at the Selangor Turf Club in Malaysia on Sunday.

On a pitch that offered nothing for batsmen, Nepal was 157 all out in 45 overs. Skipper Paras Khadka, Shakti Gauchan, Basanta Regmi and Sagar Pun then bowled some tight spell making life difficult for Oman batsmen but they crawled to 161-8 in 47.5 overs.

Nepal sniffed victory when they reduced Oman to 126-8 but skipper Sultan Ahmed and Amir Ali (14) partnered for 35 runs for the ninth wicket to take the team home. Sultan made an important 32 not out from 55 balls with three boundaries.

It was Nepal’s first loss against Oman in their overall three meetings. The win lifted unbeaten Oman to the top of the table with six points, while Nepal are second on better run rate after tying with Afghanistan on four points each.

Afghanistan was stunned by Malaysia in the other match of the day blowing the ACC Championship race wide open.  With four teams qualifying for December’s ACC Championship, played under two-day format, Malaysia are fourth on the points table with their first victory in three matches.

UAE registered their first victory today with a two-wicket win over Hong Kong in another low scoring match. Hong Kong is yet to open their account.

Nepal had a dream start in their defense when Som Pal Kami removed open Zeeshan Siddiqui for a first ball duck. Another opener Zeeshan Maqsood and Vaibhav Wategaonkar (eight) partnered for 50 runs to bring Oman’s chase back on track.

Sagar then dismissed Wategaonkar but Maqsood held firm sharing 37 runs for the third wicket with Arif Hussain (23). However, when Shakti removed Maqsood in the 17th over, Oman went on to lose their next six wickets for just 39 runs as Nepal gained a slight upper hand in the match.

Shakti picked up another wicket with Paras picking up two and Som Pal adding another along with Basanta but Sultan defied Nepal with a sensible stand. Maqsood top scored in the match with 44 off 49 with eight boundaries.

Shakti took 2-19 from 10 overs, while Paras had 2-23 from 8.5 and Som Pal returned with 2-44 from nine overs.

Earlier, Nepal lost opener Subash Khakurel for his second successive duck in the tournament before Naresh Budhayer and Gyanendra Malla added 40 runs for the second wicket. Gyanendra kept playing with grit hammering six boundaries in his 24-ball 26 before losing his wicket. Nepal then lost Paras (five) and Mehboob Alam (six) in a space of 10 runs that was followed by the dismissal of Naresh who crossed double figures for the first time in the tournament. Naresh made 23 off 59 with four boundaries.

Binod Bhandari was next to go for 10 runs and Basanta (six) and Shakti (15) also departed cheaply along with set batsman Sharad Vesawkar who made 16 off 61. Sagar and Som Pal added 29 runs for the last wicket taking the team across 150-run mark.

Sagar made 20 off 25 with two fours and Som Pal was unbeaten on 11. Amir Kaleem picked up four wickets for Oman. Nepal will meet Hong Kong on Monday.

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