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Nepal lose by seven wickets against UAE

Nepal went down to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by seven wickets in their first of the seventh and final round matches of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Nepal managed to reach 221-6 in 50 overs after Sharad Vesawkar provided a late lift to the team to recover from a sluggish start. UAE replied swiftly and half centuries from skipper Rohan Mustafa and Ghulam Shabbir guided them to 225-3 in 45.5 overs.

As both the teams are already out of contention for the top four spot that guarantees automatic berths in the 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifiers, the two matches will help them weight themselves ahead of the crucial WCL Division 2 in Namibia from where the top two teams go through to next year’s Qualifiers.

And UAE weighed themselves heavier in absence of their premier batsman Shaiman Anwar. Mustafa led from the front and with Ashfaq Ahmed (19), he gave a brisk start collecting 42 runs inside seven overs.

Mustafa shared another 81 runs for the second wicket with Shabbir to virtually throw Nepal out of the contest under perfect batting conditions. Mustafa scored 62 from 71 balls with seven boundaries and a six before losing his wicket to Sharad.

The dismissal of Mustafa hardly mattered for UAE as Shabbir kept his calm and got involved in a match-winning 67-run partnership for the third wicket with Rameez Shahzad. Sandeep Lamichhane had some solace when he dismissed Shehzad in the 38th over after the middle order batsman had made 37 from 47 balls with three fours and a six.

Shabbir completed the chase with another 35-run fourth wicket stand with Muhammad Usman (17 not out). The man-of-the-match made a patient 81 off 116 balls with eight boundaries.

Earlier, Nepal kept out regular opener Sagar Pun and opened the innings with Gyanendra Malla and Dilip Nath. The new pair did stick to the crease for almost 15 overs but only managed to put 43 runs on the board before Dilip was bowled for a 39-ball 16 Ahmed Raza.

Sharad’s arrival at the crease was all about the middle order batsman as he glued to the crease for the remainder of the game forging modest partnerships with Gyanenda and skipper Paras Khadka before providing a late lift.

Gyanendra and Sharad shared 41 runs for the second wicket that ended with the dismissal of the former for 54 off 83 in an innings that included six boundaries. Sharad then shared 38 runs for the third wicket with Paras (20) to consolidate the innings but Nepal suffered a brief collapse losing their skipper, Aarif Sheikh (duck) and Binod Bhandari (four) in a space of 12 runs.

From 134-5, Sharad saved Nepal’s blushes with a 47-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Sompal Kami (20) and unbeaten 40 for the seventh wicket with Basanta Regmi (14 not out). Sharad was unbeaten on 81 off 95 balls with five boundaries. Zahoor Khan picked up two wickets for the UAE.

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