Nepal defeated Afghanistan by 9 runs riding on a near perfect day with ball for Nepal. Nepali bowlers were clinical defending a modest 141 runs-Sompal and Jitendra provided the ideal start getting as many as 3 wickets in the first five overs. Jitendra left everybody perplexed as he threw yorkeres after yorkers in the death overs. Needing 14 runs an over to win the batters were only dig off his balls for singles and twos!
His death bowling skills left even the commentators bewildered and it was all they talked about in the final moments of the game. Jitendra was declared the player of the match for his 3 wickets and top class bowling at the end.
Nepal were in total control of the game until the final over-Asghar Stanikzai then turned the tables around scoring 14 of the 24 needed in first four balls. But he was out caught at long on in the second last ball!
This is the first win for Nepal against Afghanistan in T20 Cricket. With the win Nepal stay alive in the T20 World Cup and Nepal’s hopes of Super Ten entry will depend on the match between Hong Kong and Bangladesh.
It was the Nepal’s maniac fielding that gave Nepal the upper hand while defending the total- the players were flying all over in the field as they took some impossible catches and dived around saving plenty of runs.
Losing the toss and batting first Nepal Subash and Pun once again provided a decent start adding steady 19 runs in the first 4 overs. Pun made 8 of those with a four. Gyanendra Malla then joined Subash in the feild. Subash played Shapoor Zadran-first a mow over and then a gorgeous loft straight down the ground! At end of five Nepal were not so impressive 27/1.
With just an over of the power play remaining Malla-who until then hadn’t faced a single ball looked took Afghanistan’s Ace bowler Samiullah Shenwari to cleaners geting 18 runs off the 6th over.
The first ball Malla faced He drove a beautiful four through extra cover. Malla got 3 fours and a six in the sixth over to take Nepal to 45/1 at the end of power play.
Tough going in the middle
With the power plays over the runs dried out. Malla who made 22 off 13 balls bowed to the pressure-caught off Nabi while trying the reverse sweep. The condition turned worse from bad as Khadka was bowled for 1 by Mirwais Ashraf. Nepal were then 53/3 at end of 9 overs.
Vesawkar and Khakurel Consolidate
Vesawkar then joined Khakurel in the crease and tried to steady the innings and at times they looked almost too slow. Nepal were only 71/3 at end of 13th over going at just over 5 runs an over. Four overs later with some powerful hitting and smart cricket Nepal racked up 123/3 and looking set for 150 plus score. Overs 14, 15, 16, and 17 fetched 8, 16, 16 and 12 runs respectively with 7 fours and a six. Khaurel got to his second T20 fifty.
The 19th over from Shapoor turned the game on its head as he dismissed the both Subash(56 from 53) and Sharad(37 from 33). Subash and Vesawkar added 76 runs for the 4th wicket for Nepal.
With both set batters out Naresh and Binod struggled to connect the ball as Nepal added only 12 runs in the last two overs posting modest 141 runs.
Nepal opened left arm spinner Basant Regmi and gave away nine runs in the first over. Seeing Afghan batters comfort with spin Paras quickly changed to pace giving the ball to 18 year old seamer Sompal-who impressed immediatlely as he bowled a maiden first up. Since then Nepal always looked to be in the driving seat until the final over
Som got the break through for Nepal the first ball of his second over getting Saqid bowled. The next over things got even better for Nepal as Jitendra bagged 2 wickets in 2 balls. First, Mohammad Shahzad(6) was out caught at third man and the very next ball Najibullah Zadran(5) gave a simple catch to Vesawkar at mid on.
Afghanistan were 21/3 at end of 5 overs. Realizing how the final powerplay over changed the game for Nepal-Khadka brought himself on for the sixth and gave away just 3 runs. Afghanistan were struggling at 24/3 at end of powerplays. Safiqullah then eased the pressure getting 3 boundries off the next over from Basanta Regmi. Regmi leaked 18 runs in that over.
Nepal tightned its grip in the match getting 2 more wickets in the 9th over. Paras pulled off a sensational diving catch to send Nawroz Mangal(5) back to the pavilion.Shakti then got rid of Nabi(0) three balls later as the Afghan captain missed a straight one from Shakti.
Safiquallah and Stanikzai drag Afghanistan back
Safiqullah and Stanikzai then added 36 runs in 5 overs to bring Afghanistan back into the game. Basanta broke the partnership getting Safiqullah caught at point to give Nepal the upper hand once again.
It was all Jitendra’s show from there-his yorkers too overwhelming for the Afghan batters! Sompal leaked some unlucky runs from the other end in the 18th over but nothing Jitendra could not compenstate with! Jitendra got rid of Samiullah Shenwari(15) in the second last over thanks to a ripper of a catch by Nepali skipper.
Stanikzai Scare in the final over
Afghanistan needed 24 to win off the last over. Stanikzai scored two boundries in the first two balls to keep Afghan hopes alive. He got four off the fourth ball as Afghanitan needed 10 more to keep their 100% track record against Nepal in T20s but that wasn’t to be as he was out the very next ball caught at long on by Gyanendra Malla.
With win in the bag Sompal bowled a length delivery to Mirwais who missed it to give Nepal a nine run victory.