Netherlands pulled off their biggest chase in Twenty20 International history after defeating hosts Nepal by three wickets in Tri-Nation Twenty20 International Series at the TU Stadium on Tuesday.
Batting first, world record half century from Kushal Bhurtel and quickfire innings from Dipendra Singh Airee steered Nepal to 205-6, their highest total against the Netherlands.
The Dutch attacked from the word go and 21-year old Bas de Leede’s career best score of 81 not out took them to 209-7 with three balls to spare.
Ireland were at the receiving end when Netherlands famously chased down 190 runs during the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in just 13.5 overs.
On a day of run-feast when 415 runs were scored, Nepal’s opening pair of Kushal and Aasif Sheikh failed for the first time in the series when they lost the former for duck with 20 runs on the board by second over.
Nepal continued to score runs freely on the perfect batting surface beginning with a 43-run partnership between skipper Gyanendra Malla (20) and Kushal. After Gyanendra’s departure, Kushal and Dipendra added 78 runs for the third wicket.
Kushal completed his third consecutive half century during that partnership becoming the first debutant in the world to achieve the feat. He had also struck half centuries in Nepal’s convinving nine-wicket victories over Netherlands and Malaysia in the first two league matches.
Kushal broke England batsman Dawid Malan’s record of scoring two consecutive half centuries on debut.
Dipendra, meanwhile, scored his maiden T20I half cenury reaching the landmark in just 28 deliveries. He raced to 54 striking Dutch captain Pieter Seelar for a six and lost his wicket while going for a third one. He finished with a 30-ball 60 with five sixes and three boundaries.
Kushal Malla (18) got all his runs from sixes and Sompal Kami (13-ball 21) finished off the innings. Vivian Kingma and Seelar took two wickets each for Netherlands.
Nepal’s ace spinner Sandeep Lamichhane managed to get rid of Max O’Dowd, the centurion in previous match against Malaysia, for just 9 runs but that hardly mattered as Ben Cooper cut loose.
Cooper and De Leede were involved in a crucial 68-run partnership before Nepal hit back with the wickets of the former and new man Aryan Dutt (nought) in a space of five deliveries. The joy, however, was momentous as Seelar and De Leede took them close to victory with another 49-run partnership.
The game completely swung towards Netherlands after Seelar smashed Sandeep for three consecutive sixes in the 18th over when they had needed 45 from last 18 balls. Sandeep did remove Seelar in the fourth ball but his final over cost Nepal 20 runs.
De Leede struck Abinash Bohora for two sixes and a boundary in the penultimate over before sealing the victory in the second and third over with consecutive boundaries. De Leede’s 42-ball knock included seven fours and five sixes.
Cooper contributed 35-ball 55 hitting 10 boundaries, while Seelar played a crucial cameo of 15-ball 31. Sandeep took four wickets, striking every over, but was hit for 48 runs.