Kathmandu – Nepal team entered to the Quarterfinal of the 17th Asian Games Men’s Cricket Event after defeating Maldives by 7 wickets at Yeonhui Cricket Ground in Incheon, Korea.
Maldives playing their first game of the tournament won the toss and elected to bat first on a hazy cloud day with around 23 degree temperature. The wicket was offering some skiddy bounce to the pace bowlers. And as the doctor ordered, Sompal Kami chipped in with an early wicket to push Maldives on the back foot. He removed the opener Abdullah Shahid in his fifth ball of the first over.
Skipper Paras Khadka then brought Bhuvan Karki in the second over and the plan worked well. He dismissed the dangerous opener Mohamed Rishwan for duck. The bad start continues to pile pressure to Maldives batsmen as the wicket started to tumble. At the end of 10 overs, Maldives lost their half side for just 27 runs. Shafraz Jaleel 12(26) & Muawiyath Ghanee 11(14) were the highest run scorers. Once they were also dismissed, Maldives were bundled out for just 56 runs on the board.
Shakti Gauchan, Bhuvan Karki and Sagar Pun chipped in with two wickets each while Sompal Kami and Basant Regmi managed wicket apiece.
Nepal had a slow start during the chase, Sagar Pun struggled to find the gaps and soon dismissed after playing 10 balls for just a single in 4.5 overs. Gyanendra Malla (1) misjudged the line of the delivery and was cleaned up by Shafee Saeed next over. The innings was then held by Skipper Paras Khadka and opener Subash Khakurel(27*), the duo shared a 25 runs partnership but soon Khadka missed the doosra from Ahmed Hassan and was bowled for 15 runs.
Nepalese batters were struggling to find boundaries and were also unable to rotate the strike. With lesser runs to chase, Nepal managed to win the match by 7 wickets but it took 14.2 overs to achieve the modest target against the minnows.
Ibrahim Hassan, S Saeed & Ahmed Hassan grabbed wickets apiece for Maldives but more importantly, Nepal qualified for the Quarterfinals. They will face the arch-rivals Afghanistan on Wednesday. While, Maldives will play against Kuwait on Monday.