Nepal’s miserable performance against Afghanistan continued losing to their Associate arch rivals by nine wickets in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers that dashed their hopes of qualifying for the ICC World Twenty20 finishing group winners.
In a rain affected match that was first shortened to 10 overs and following further delay reducted to seven overs, Nepal managed 73-3. The Afghans attacked from the word go and replied with 78-1 in 6.2 overs.
It was Nepal’s fifth consecutive defeat in the shorter version of game against Afghans failing to return without victory in the last nine years. The loss relegated Nepal to fourth position in Group ‘B’ points table with six points from four matches. Nepal will now fight for a playoff spot that could send them in the World Twenty20.
A win against Bermuda on Saturday will give them a playoff spot. Afghanistan, meanwhile, are on course for their third World Twenty20 appearance in a row as they lead the pool with 10 points from six matches. A victory or even a no-result against Kenya on Sunday will hand them the tickets to Bangladesh for next year.
Afghans were benifitted by Scotland’s 15-run win over the Netherlands in another Group ‘B’ match. Netherlands (eight points) were pushed to second, while Kenya (six poins) are third on net run rate after being tied with Nepal and Scotland. Papua New Guinea (PNG), whose match against Denmark was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain in Sharjah earlier in the day, have five points. Bermuda (four) and Denmark (one) are seventh and eighth. Denmark are out of the tournament.
The vibrant crowd from both the countries showed up at Sharjah and were paid off for their perseverance when match officials finally gave a go ahead for seven-over game. Shapoor Zadran was spot on in his first over and gave away only three runs.
Nepal collected 15 runs from the second over bowled by Dawlat Zadran with opener Subash Khakurel (15) hitting a six and a boundary. Sagar Pun then smashed two sixes in the third over from Karim Sadiq as Nepal made 16 runs in that over.
Mirwais Ashraf stopped the run flow conceding only five runs in the third over and dismissed Subash. Skipper Paras Khadka was next to go for four with Shapoor only giving away seven runs.
Collecting just 23 runs from four overs ultimately made the difference for Nepal. Mirwais bowled a tight sixth over dismissing Sagar and conceding just eight runs. Sagar made 22 off 14 — his highest total in the tournament.
Gyanendra Malla lifted the run rate in the last over hitting Afghan skipper Mohammed Nabi for two sixes and a four. Gyanendra clobbered 23 off just nine playing openly in the tournament for the first time.
The match was all but over when openers Mohammad Shahzad and Nawroz Mangal gave Afghans a flying start collecting 50 runs in the first four overs. Paras dismissed Nawroj in the second ball of the fifth over but by then it was too late. Nawroj made 22 off 11.
Mohammad – who completed the chase with a six off Basanta – finished unbeaten on 43 from 22 with three sixes and as many boundaries.