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Nepal’s WCLC campaign ends on bitter note

Nepal’s ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) ended on a bitter note losing to United Arab Emirates (UAE) by 63 runs in their last match of the tournament in Abu Dhabi, UAE on Friday
At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, UAE fought back in the team to put 195 all out from 49.2 overs after Adnan Mufti struck a scintillating century. Nepal were 132 all out in 42.2 overs with the team once again let down by batting. 
The result saw Nepal finish seventh in the points table with nine points from 14 matches (seven rounds) ahead of Namibia (six points). UAE finished ahead of Nepal with 10 points, while the Netherlands topped the table with 22 points. 
Along with the Netherlands, second placed Scotland (19 points), Hong Kong (18 points) and Papua New Guinea (16 points) had already sealed automatic berths for 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifiers. 
Kenya (12 points), UAE, Nepal and Namibia will now join Oman and Canada for next year’s ICC World Cricket League Division 2 from where the top two teams will reach the World Cup Qualifiers. 
For Nepal, who had beaten table toppers Netherlands at their home in one of the matches, it was end of a terrible campaign that saw them win just four matches. Nepal had beaten Namibia twice and Kenya once — with all three victories coming in home matches.
Nepal had a dream start in Friday’s game after Sompal Kami ran riot in UAE top and middle order reducing the hosts to 39-5 in 18.3 overs. While Sompal took four wickets in his continuous eight-over opening spell, skipper Paras Khadka had the other scalp of Muhammad Usman. 
But UAE marked a remarkable comeback through Mufti who not only scored fluently but also shared crucial partnerships in the lower order to put what ultimately was a winning total for his side. 
Mufti shared 80 runs for the sixth wicket with Mohammed Boota who chipped in 37 from 73 deliveries with four boundaries. Sagar Pun, brought back in the game in place of Shakti Gauchan, bowled Boota but Nepal could hardly relax. 
Mufti continued to play his shots from the other end and took most of the strike and did the bulk of scoring. He made 104 from 89 balls with eight boundaries and three sixes before falling prey to Sompal. 
Sompal produced the best bowling figures for Nepal in the WCLC returning the figures of 5-27 from 10 overs that included a maiden. In doing so, Sompal got the better of Sharad Vesawkar who previously held the best figures of 4-28 from 7.3 overs in the home match against Kenya.
Sompal ended up picking taking 15 wickets in the tournament but remained second behind Basanta Regmi in the list of Nepal’s highest wicket takers. Basanta, who went wicketless in both the matches against UAE, had 17 wickets. 
Lalit Singh Bhandari was too impressive in his first eight-over spell keeping four maiden overs and conceding just nine runs. But in the returning spell he leaked 19 runs — 15 alone in the 47th over. Mohammad Naveed became his first List A wicket. 
Sandeep Lamichhane also picked up a wicket for Nepal to get his 12th in the tournament but bled 51 runs in eight overs. 
Nepal didn’t have best of the opening and lost Dilip Nath (duck) with just seven runs on the board. The team then lost Sharad (13) and Paras (10) to get reduced to 39-3 in 17.4 overs. 
Sharad finished as Nepal’s highest scorer in WCLC with 415 runs, seven runs ahead of Paras. Gyanendra Malla was Nepal’s next best with 394 runs. 
Following the exit of Paras, Sagar stepped in and brought Nepal’s best partnership of the day — 41 runs for the fourth wicket with Gyanendra. But two wickets in a single over virtually ended Nepal’s challenge when Imran Haider got rid of both set batsmen. 
Sagar was first to go for 21 off 43 with two boundaries and Gyanendra soon followed after making a painstaking 42 from 90 deliveries in a boundaryless innings. 
Aarif Sheikh (14) and Binod Bhandari tried to keep Nepal in the game with a 30-run sixth wicket partnership but Ahmed Raza removed the former to break the stand. 
From 121-5, Nepal lost three wickets in a space of one run following the dismissal of Aarif along with Sompal (duck) and Basanta (naught). Mohammad Naveed had removed Sompal and Basanta in consecutive deliveries. 
Bhandari was the last man out for 25 off 30 balls after hitting a six and a four. Amjad Javed took 3-23 from 7.2 overs for UAE. Skipper Rohan Mustafa also took two wickets for the hosts.
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