Cricnepal/Kathmandu – Nepal defeated Maldives in the opening game of the ACC T20 Cup by 76 runs thanks to fiery 59 from Pradeep Airee, who later was adjudged the player of the match.
Losing the toss and put into bat first, Nepal posted 171 runs losing 5 wickets. Opener Pradeep Airee top scored with 59 off 26 balls. Sharad Veswarkar and Subash Khakurel contributed with 36 and 20 respectively, while Manjeet Shrestha made a 20 of 16 balls marking his come back to National side.
Airee and Khakurel set Nepal off to a flyer as Nepal reached 50 in less than 4 overs. The duo added 80 in 6.3 overs before Mohamed Safee bowled Airee. The large noisy crowd at the TU Ground enjoyed his innings off 8 fours and 4 sixes.
Nepal lost three wickets in span of 10 runs. Gyanendra Malla’s poor form in T20 continued as he fell for 2 off 5 balls bowled by Abdulla Shahid at the score of 89. Subash departed five balls later lofting the ball to Ahmed Fiaz off Mohamed Saheed.
Binod Bhandari and Skipper Paras Khadka steadied the ship for Nepal adding 21 before Bhandari punched a ball in 14th over off Ahmed Fiaz which knocked the stumps at the non strikers end after taking a deflection of Fiaz hand getting Khadka run out for 10. Bhandari fell soon adding 15 in the fourth ball of 16th over.
Sharad Veswarkar and T20 debutant Manjeet added 43 off the last 4 overs to push the Nepali. Veswarkar with 2 sixes and 2 fours added 36 while Manjeet smashed 2 boundaries in his 20. Both players remained not out.
Chasing 172 Maldives made a decent start scoring 18 off the first 3 overs. In form Mohamed Riswan gave Maldives a positive start before Paras Khadka bowled him for 15 runs. This was the 100th wicket for Paras in International Cricket. Soon the score board looked ugly for Maldives as it turned to 30-4 losing Ismail Ali (run out, 3), Abdulla Shahid(bowled Khadka, 12) and Jaykody(bowled Gauchan, 0).
Maldives team had accepted defeat right then and played the rest of the match extreme caution and with no intent to win the match. In the end of 20, Maldives made 95 runs losing 7 wickets. Neesham Nasir top scored for Maldives with 23 runs, while experienced Ahmed Fiaz contributed with 19.
Paras bagged two wickets for Nepal ending the match with excellent figures of 3-7-0-2 , while Shakti Gauchan, Manjeet Shrestha, Basanta Regmi and Sangam Regmi chipped in with wicket a piece.
Nepal will take on Hong Kong tomorrow.