Nepal eked out a three-wicket victory over Namibia in their second match of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) third round with a century from Paras Khadka and a sensible innings from Sharad Vesawkar bringing them back in the tournament.
After Nepal elected to field first, Namibia went through a roller coaster ride opening with a solid opening wicket partnership and recovered from a middle order collapse to post 239-9 in 50 overs.
Nepal replied with 240-7 in 49.5 overs but not before going through a tensed final stages although Paras and Sharad steered team towards a comfortable position with a 167-run third wicket partnership. The win lifted Nepal to fifth in the WCLC table ahead of PNG on net run rate after both teams were tied on four points.
PNG, however, have only completed two rounds in the tournament. Behind Nepal are Namibia and UAE who both have two points. Netherlands (10), Hong Kong (nine) and Scotland (seven) are inside the top three after completion of three rounds. Ahead of Nepal are Kenya, who have six points from two rounds.
Nepal lost openers Naresh Budhayer (six) and Gyanendra Malla (22) at 37-2 before Paras and Sharad rebuilt the innings. Paras was exceptional in his 94-ball 103 hammering seven sixes and five boundaries. In an innings that almost looked flawless, Paras got off the mark with a six and completed his century with six.
But the captain played the only bad shot of the day trying to reverse sweep Zhivago Groenewald before he was adjudged leg before wicket. After Paras’ departure, Nepal also lost Rajesh Pulami Magar (one) at 205-4 before Binod Bhandari eased some pressure with two boundaries.
Bhandari was out for 12 off 12 balls at a time when Nepal needed 10 runs from the last 21 balls. But under pressure, Nepal lost the wickets of Sagar Pun (two) and Sompal Kami (one) as they needed six runs from the last six balls.
Basanta Regmi stole a single off the first ball and Sharad scampered for three in the second ball to put Nepal on a brink of victory. A single in the last fifth ball sealed the victory for Nepal as Sharad once again stood firm.
Sharad, who was unbeaten on 50 off 99 in the five-wicket victory in the first match, was unbeaten on 74 from 103 balls with five boundaries. Sarel Burger picked up 3-38 from 10 overs for Namibia.
The Namibians had a dream start when Stephan Baard and Zane Green began sensibly putting on a 95-run stand for the first wicket. Their cause was helped by Paras who dropped Green in the fifth and Baard in the ninth over, both off Sompal Kami at the slips.
Baard made 51 off 60 balls with eight fours before Sandeep Lamichhane foxed him to hand a simple catch to wicket keeper Binod Bhandari. The Baard dismissal triggered a Namibian collapse as they lost five wickets for 19 runs. Green was one of them, trapped leg before for 47 off 87 with six boundaries off Basanta Regmi.
Burger and Jean-Pierre Kotze pushed Namibia close to 239 with a 39-run partnership. Burger was unbeaten on 43 off 60 with three fours and two sixes, while Kotze smashed 32 off 11 with three sixes and two fours.
Basanta, Sandeep and Shakti Gauchan picked up two wickets each for Nepal. Paras remained wicketless with the ball but was economical conceding 20 runs in nine overs.
Nepal will now play away to Netherlands in the fourth round fixtures on August 13 and 15, before taking on Hong Kong in September. Next year, they host Kenya and meet UAE at a neutral venue.