Sagar Pun has been picked up by coach Pubudu Dassanayake to play a role of a frontline spinner in the team and former U-19 player delivered on Saturday though Nepal lost their third friendly against Sri Lanka U-23 team by just three runs.
At the Thurstan Complex Turf Cricket grounds in Colombo, Sagar returned with the figures of 6-23 that saw Nepal restrict the hosts to 168 all out in 48.1 overs.
Nepal – who crossed 150-run mark for the first time in the tour – fought hard in their chase before the innings folded at 165-9 in 50 overs. It was the first time that Nepal went any close to their mighty opponents.
Nepal lost openers Subash Khakurel (eight), Anil Mandal (13), skipper Paras Khadka (10) and Gyanendra Malla (20) with 66 runs on board in their chase. Gyanendra joined the team in the tour to play his first match after returning from Canada and faced 50 deliveries hitting two boundaries.
Binod Bhandari and Sharad Vesawkar (13) tried to consolidate Nepali innings with a 46-run stand for the fifth wicket but after both batsmen departed in a space of six runs the visitors were left in tatters at 118-6. Binod top scored for Nepal making 40 off 61 with his innings including three boundaries and two sixes.
Sagar took Nepal close to victory margin adding 29 runs with Basanta Regmi (11)and 18 with Shakti Gauchan (eight).
Just as it seemed Sagar was going to win the match for Nepal with the team requiring four runs of the last two balls, Chaturanga Kumara dismissed both batsmen in two consecutive balls sealing the victory for Sri Lanka.
Sagar ended up making 31 off 42 with two hits to the fence. Chaturanga and Udara Jayasundara picked up three wickets each for the Lankans.
Earlier, Sri Lanka rocketed to a score of 51 in just nine overs after openers Niroshan Dikwella and Udara (28) played some delightful strokes. Avinash Karn removed Udara but Niroshan frustrated Nepal adding another 33 runs with Pabasara Waduge (19). Chandra Saud then got rid off Pabasara and Sagar began to wreak havoc.
Sagar took wickets at regular intervals and also had the delight of dismissing Niroshan for 40 with the Sri Lankan scorecard reading 94-7. Angelo Jayasinghe (29), Amila Aponso (18) and Vimensh Wickremsinghe (14) prolonged their innings collecting 67 runs.
Avinash took 2-36 from 6.1 and Basanta returned with a miserly figures of 1-16 from 10 overs that included four maidens.