Rajesh Pulami Magar became the highest scorer for Nepal in First Class cricket but his valiant effort was not yet enough to prevent his team from an 87-run defeat in the first three-day game against Kurunegala Combine-XI in Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
Chasing a target of 299 runs with 93 overs remaining in the final day’s play, Nepal survived just 70.2 overs following a top order collapse before Magar pulled out a respectable 211 all out for Nepal in the second innings.
Rajesh – who was making debut with the national team from the Sri Lanka tour – made 95 in the only positive of the day surpassing Sharad Vesawkar’s 89 against the United Arab Emirates during the 2005 ICC Inter-continental Cup three-day game in Kathmandu.
Kurunegala, who had made 347 all out in the first innings and bundled out Nepal for just 187, declared their second innings on 138-8 to leave Nepal with a tough task to save their first First Class game after nine years.
Edirisinghe wreaked havoc in Nepal’s top to lower order picking up six wickets. He began with three wickets in the top order leaving Nepal tottering at 45-5. Subash Khakurel’s poor run with the bat continued after he handed a return catch to Shalika Karunanayake for a fourth-ball duck in the first over of Nepal’s reply.
Mohammed Shiraz then removed Naresh Budhayer (seven) and Eridisinghe dismissed skipper Paras Khadka (15), Anil Mandal (five) and Binod Bhandari (naught) cheaply as Nepal were in the verge of a humiliating defeat.
Rajesh then stepped in and stitched a 72-run stand with Sagar Pun. Sagar was the chief aggressor in the partnership who clobbered four boundaries and two sixes in his 48-ball 44. After the fall of Sagar, Rajesh added another 37 runs with Shakti Gauchan (10) but the latter’s dismissal left Nepal still reeling at 154-7.
Rasanjana Jayaratne removed Sagar and Shakti. Rajesh, however, kept going and took Nepal across 200-run mark following a 54-run stand with Som Pal Kami. Edirisinghe then returned to end the little resistance that was left in Nepali innings.
Edirisinghe first removed the well set Rajesh five short of century and followed the dismissal with the scalp of Bhuwan Karki (naught) in the same over. Som Pal became his sixth victim an over later. Rajesh hit 11 boundaries in 173 balls with Som Pal making 17 off 56.
Earlier, Som Pal picked up both Kurunegala wickets to fall removing the overnight batsmen Madawa Warnapura (28) and Darshana Mahawatta (seven) as the hosts declared after adding just seven runs in their overnight total.
Som Pal picked up three wickets totaling eight wickets in the two innings. He was adjudged the man-of-the-match having made 49 and 17 with the bat. Nepal will now head to Dambulla for another three-day game beginning from November 14-16.