Rohit Kumar Paudel produced one of the best ODI innings by a Nepali batsman but Nepal still lost to Papua New Guinea by six runs in a high scoring match of the two-game Bilateral ODI Series on Friday.
Half centuries from Charles Amini and skipper Assad Vala along with gritty knocks from Norman Vanua and Tony Ura steered PNG to their ODI-best total of 292-8 in 50 overs. Nepal remained in the heels of the visitors throughout the game after Rohit became the second ODI centurion keeping his side on course for a record chase.
But a sharp diving catch from Amini off Vanua saw the 19-year old dismissed as Nepal fell six runs short with two wickets in hand. Nepal needed 15 runs from the last two overs but Sompal Kami and Kamal Singh Airee could only muster eight.
Vanua bowled a decisive final over conceding just three runs. He was the pick of the PNG bowlers taking 3-62. Amini and Vala also had two scalps apiece.
The game was all about Rohit after Nepal were reduced to 73-4 by the 13th over. Together with Aarif Sheikh, he brought a 104-run partnership — the second century stand for the duo in a space of two weeks.
Aarif made a 64-ball 34 before handing a return catch to Vala. Rohit added another 40 runs with Bhim Sharki, completing his maiden ODI century off 91 deliveries. Just when it seemed he was taking the game away from PNG, Amini sensationally dived to his right at mid-wicket to get rid of Rohit and ultimately win the game for his side.
Rohit scored 126 off 107 balls becoming the highest scorer for Nepal in ODI cricket surpassing the previous best score of 115 againt the UAE by former captain Paras Khadka. His innings included seven fours and four sixes.
Rohit now is also the highest run-getter for Nepal in ODIs having amassed 588 runs from 16 games with an average of 42. He also has four half centuries to his name — two of them coming during Nepal’s recent tour of UAE.
Earlier, PNG rode their luck to get off to a decent start before some late surge from Vanua lifted them to the highest ODI total at the TU grounds. Vanua struck a 28-ball 47 with four boundaries and three sixes.
Amini top scored for PNG with a 103-ball 77 and Vala chipped in 55-ball 60. Ura scored 38 off 47 balls. Kamal, Sompal and Dipendra Singh Airee took two wickets each for Nepal.