Nepal lost the Sagarmatha Cement Journey To World Cup Cricket Tournament to Air India by five wickets at the Tribhuvan University Stadium today.
Nepal delighthed a vibrant crowd of somewhere around 10,000 supporters scoring 277-8 in a 45-over-a-side match.
Air India attacked from the word go and following a solid opening they reached 279-5 in 43.2 overs.
After put in, Nepal lost opener Subash Khakurel (nine) with just 35 runs on the board. Anil Mandal and Sagar Pun combined for a 58-run stand before back-to-back dismissal of both batsmen reduced Nepal to 93-3 in 21.1 overs.
Sagar was the first to go for 35 off 42 after hitting two sixes and a four. Anil continued to impress with his consistency making 45 off 68 with seven boundaries.
Skipper Paras Khadka and Binod Bhandari lifted Nepal adding 148 runs for the fourth wicket. Binod was in his true colours making 79 off 63 with seven boundaries and three sixes.
Paras quickly followd Binod after a gritty 61 from 57 balls with six fours and a six. Sharad Vesawkar (eight) hit one six in his innings, while Pradeep Airee blitzed in his 14-ball 27 that consisted of three fours and a six.
Hiten Dalal and Raj Bahadur Paul picked up two wickets each for Air India team. Nepal’s nightmare began with Air India start when fireworks from Hiten and Manish Sharma gave the visiting team a solid 100-run start for the first wicket in just nine overs.
After Paras gave the breakthrough dismissing Manish for a run-a-ball 33, Hiten headed back the pavilion fallling frey to veteran leg spinner Raj Kumar Pradhan.
Hiten, however, had provided Air India the dream start they needed in chase of a big total. Man-of-the-match Hiten hit nine fours — four of them came from a single over from Som Pal — and three sixes.
The early momentum allowed Air India middle order to deal with the target professionally and Sandip Raj Kaushik and Pradeep Malik exactly did that.
The two batsmen kept taking singles and doubles apart from punishing loose deliveries. Satish was dismissed for 34 off 53 where he hit two sixes before Basanta Regmi trapped him leg before.
Pradep then got involved in two crucial partnerships easing Air India’s chase. He shared 36 runs with Jagrit Anand (26) and a match winning 52 with skipper Shafiq Khan.
When Sagar dismissed Pradeep, Air India were just 11 runs sigh of victory. Jagrit made 64 off 67 with four boundaries and three sixes.
Shafiq played a perfect role of finisher smashing 41 off just 24 balls that included four sixes. Jagrit was named man-of-the-series for his 267 runs in the tournament where he hit one century and two half centuries.
Sagar finished with 2-38 for Nepal. Som Pal Kami — who ended as tournament’s leading wicket taker with 10 wickets — was hit for 78 runs in 8.2 overs.