Nepal wasted an opportunity to restore pride after losing promotion to Division-I losing to Kenya by 15 runs in the third-place playoff match of the ICC World Cricket League Division-II in Windhoe, Namibia on Saturday.
Nepal took on the field with broken hearts and up against them was a team that inflicted them the pain of crashing out from the tournament. After stopping Kenya on 208-9 in 50 overs, Nepal had their chase in a right track with a century stand between Binod Bhandari and Gyanendra Malla.
However, Nepal threw the match away losing their last seven wickets for just 52 runs before being bundled out for 193 with 18 balls to spare.
Nepal began Division-II with a sick opening order that never got cured through out the tournament. Subash Khakurel (10) was first to go followed by Sagar Pun (10) and in chase of what ultimately proved to be a big total, Nepal were stunned when skipper Paras Khadka was out for a first-ball duck leaving his team at 35-3 in 5.1 overs.
Binod Bhandari was promoted to No 3 and he paid back the coach with a fluent innings that put Nepal on the top of the match. Bhandari shared 107 runs for the fourth wicket with Gyanendra Malla as victory seemed inevitable for Nepal. Bhandari brought his first half century of one-day cricket as the partnership blossomed in Nepal’s favour.
As Gyanendra was approaching his second consecutive half century of the tournament, he lost his wicket to Elijah Otieno for 48. Gyanendra hit 48 off 72 with four boundaries.
With Bhandari running with a fine form, Nepal sniffed victory but his dismissal triggere a huge collapse in the Nepali camp. Bhandari posted his tournament-high 73 off 83 with six boundaries and two sixes.
It was then all left on Sharad Vesawkar but his over-defensive approach piled more pressure in the closing stages of the game. Vesawkar made 24 off 57 balls with one boundary. Aarif Sheikh (five), Sompal Kami (naught), Bhuwan Karki (two) and Shakti Gauchan (four off 28) were not able to see the team through.
Earlier, Kenya were reduced to 69-5 inside 23 overs with only Narendra Patel (44) making runs from the top order. The lower middle order, however, took Kenya across 200-run mark.
Skipper Rakep Patel (32) and Nelson Odhiambo shared a crucial 71-run stand for the sixth wicket. Odhiambo made 48 off 76. Sompal picked up 3-41 from 10 overs, while Sagar took 2-25 from seven. Bhuwan was economical in his 1-31 off 10 overs.