A valiant Nepal lost to Ireland by five wickets in their first official warm-up match of the ICC World Twenty20 in Fatullah on Wednesday.
Batting first, Nepal made 137-7 in 20 overs and it looked like they were going to defeat the Irish in their first ever senior team encounter reducing them to 107-5 with just 18 balls remaining.
But a late onslaught from Stuart Thompson and Gary Wilson prevented another shocking result after Hong Kong stunned Test-playing national Zimbabwe by four wickets in another warm-up game of the day.
Ireland finished at 141-5 with five balls to spare. Jitendra was hit for a six in his first over and then made a remarkable comeback with back-to-back wickets of Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce (duck). His third wicket came in the 12th over when he dismissed William Porterfield for 38.
Shakti then got rid off another set batsman Andrew Poynter (28) and new man Kevin O’Brien as Nepal sniffed victory. But Thomposon and Wilson had other ideas.
With 31 runs required from the last 18 balls, Jitendra conceded 12 runs in the 18th and Shakti was clobbered for 18 runs that virtually ended the match for Nepal. Wilson smashed 31 off 21 with two sixes off Shakti and Thompson blitzed with 19 off nine with three boundaries.
Earlier, Nepal’s total was built around skipper Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla after they lost openers Sagar Pun (six) and Subash Khakurel (10) cheaply.
Paras and Gyanendra shared 55 runs for the third wicket and just as Nepal were trying to build on the partnership; Paras headed back triggering a brief collapse. Paras made 31 from 27 and Gyanendra scored 47 off 35 with both batsmen hitting three boundaries and a six each.
After Paras lost his wicket, Nepal also saw the dismissal of Binod Bhandari (five) and Sharad Vesawkar (nine) in quick succession. Gyanendra shared another 31 runs with Naresh Budhayer who made a 14 off 15 with two boundaries.
George Dockrell, Andy McBrine and Kevin O’Brien picked up two wickets each for Ireland. Nepal will now play the UAE in the second warm-up game on Friday, also in Fatullah.