Nepal lost their England tour opener to Middlesex by 14 runs as coach Pubudu Dassanayake’s opening worries dug deep with yet another duck dismissal of Sagar Pun.
In a match where in-form Gyanendra Malla, Subash Khakurel and Sharad Vesawkar pulled out impressive performance, Sagar once again failed to open his account with Dassanayake’s consideration of promoting Malla at No. 1 getting stronger.
Middlesex, who had a second XI, rode on a swashbuckling half century from Irish Andy Balbirnie to make 164-4 in 20 overs. Balbirnie did the bulk of scoring forging a century stand with opener Ryan Higgins until Nepali bowlers managed to put some brakes in the scoring at the last stages of their innings.
Subash was at the centre of Nepal chase as he got involved in two big partnerships once Sagar lost his wicket to left arm spinner Ravi Patel. Subash and Gyanendra brought Nepal back in the match with a 69 runs partnership for the second wicket.
Gyanendra was at his usual best scoring fluently before Patel had him dismissed by Higgins. Gyanendra made 41 off 30 with six boundaries. One ball later, Patel bowled skipper Paras Khadka for a duck reducing Nepal to 71-3.
Sharad stepped in and together with Subash shared 53 runs for the fourth wicket reigniting Nepal’s hopes. However, Harry Podmore bowled Sharad for 32 off 23 (five fours) to halt the proceedings. Pradee Airee was next to go running himself out for a duck.
Nepal still pinned their hopes in the new pair of Subash and Rajesh but Podmore struck again removing the former for 46. Subash hit five fours in 56 balls. Rajesh was unbeaten on 17 off eight balls.
Earlier, Sompal Kami bowled opener Cameroon Steel (15) but Balbirnie went on to share 109 runs with Higgins leaving Nepali bowlers with blushes to save. Balbirnie made 72 off 45 with nine fours and a six and Higgins chipped in 38 off 42 with three boundaries. Jitendra Mukhiya picked up 2-34 from four overs.