Nepal’s aspirations of playing the 2015 World Cup were hit hard early after the team lost to the UAE by 102 runs in their opening encounter of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers at the Rangiora Oval in New Zealand on Monday.
Nepal were pushed to back foot early in the game when UAE amassed a huge 297-8 in 50 overs following a century from Shaiman Anwar. Nepal never recovered from the early wobble before the team was bundled out for just 195 runs in 48.1 overs.
Nepal lost opener Anil Mandal for a golden duck in the second over and Mahesh Chhetri — filling in shoes of injured regular opener Subash Khakurel — headed back for six runs. Both were dismissed by Manjula Guruge.
Skipper Paras Khadka was out for 12 and Sagar Pun was next to go for 25 off 46 two balls before Gyanendra Malla (four) left cheaply leaving Nepal tottering at 53-5 in 18 overs.
Binod Bhandari and Sharad Vesawkar tried to consolidate the innings with a 49-run stand. Binod was looking in his usual aggression and hammered the only six of Nepal innings and after smashing five boundaries left the crease for 37 off 29.
After 12 runs, Basanta Regmi (five) also departed as Nepal were left with avoiding a humiliating loss at 114-7. Sharad then shared 80 runs for the eighth wicket with Shakti Gauchan to at least earn some respectability to the total.
Sharad remained calm throughout his innings and struck three quick boundaries to complete his half century. Just as it seemed Sharad and Shakti would reduce the loss margin as much as possible, Nepal went on to lose their last three wickets for just one run.
Sharad was first to go after making 54 from 84, while Shakti remained unbeaten on 37 off 52 with five hits to the fence. Kamran Shahzad took three wickets for UAE with Khurram Khan and Amjad Javed also picking up two each.
Earlier, Nepal’s decision to field first looked on track until the 17th over when they reduced UAE to 81-3. Anwar, however, flayed Nepali bowling attack with a superb 145-run partnership with Swapnil Patil.
Anwar made 109 off 96 balls with eight boundaries and eight sixes. Swapnil made 74 off 78 with two fours and two sixes. Both batsmen fell to Basanta. Opener Salman Faris made 35 off 57 with four boundaries.
Basanta returned with 3-43 and Jitendra Mukhiya took 2-58 from eight overs. Shakti was economical in his 1-42 from 10 overs. Som Pal — making his debut with the senior national team — bowled seven wicketless overs for 38 runs. Sagar also had one scalp.
In another Group ‘A’ match, Hong Kong stunned Scotland by 17 runs. In Group ‘B’, the Netherlands cruised to a seven-wicket victory over Uganda and Papua New Guinea shocked Kenya by eight wickets riding on centuries from Lega Siaka and Assad Vala.