Nepal secured a historic nine-run victory over Afghanistan in their last and final preliminary round match of the ICC World Twenty20 .
In a nail-biting finish, Afghanistan fell short of the 142 runs target by nine runs, gifting Nepal their first victory against the Afghans in T20s.
Man-of-the-match Jitendra Mukhiya took three wickets laying a solid platform for the Nepali side to defend their total of 141 for five in the match played the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong on Thursday.
Nepal bowling attack was in the driving seat in much of the Afghanistan batting until Asghar Stanikzai ignited hopes for the Afghan side with a quick-fire 49 from 36 balls. However, Stanikzai’s dismissal in the penultimate ball of the Afghan inning dashed any chances of a fightback from the Afghan side.
With 24 runs required from the last over, Stanikzai smashed three boundaries in the first four balls before he was finally caught by Gyanendra Malla off Sompal Kami’s delivery.
Mukhiya had earlier grabbed three vital wickets as Afghanistan was reduced to 50 runs for five wickets in the ninth over. Kami and Shakti Gauchan also took two wickets each in their kitty while Basanta Regmi registered one in his name.
Earlier, Subash Khakurel scored a half-century as Nepal posted a competitive target of 142 runs after losing the toss. Khakurel smashed four boundaries and a six for his 56 from 53 balls.
Fielding an unchanged side which lost to Bangladesh on Tuesday, Nepal made a slow start to the game scoring just 19 runs in four overs. Afghans got their first breakthrough when Sagar Pun was caught at the mid-off region while attempting a big hit. Pun was caught by Mohammad Nabi off Dawlat Zadran’s ball.
Gyanendra Malla scored a quickfire 22 from 13 balls but then gifted his wicket when he top-edged while attempting reverse-sweep and was caught by Nawroz Mangal.
In-form Skipper Paras Khadka was bowled for just one run after he completely missed a Mirwais Ashraf’s delivery which rattled his off stump.
However, Khakurel and Sharad Bheswakar (37 off 32) stepped in and steered the Nepali inning with a solid 76-run partnership. Their partnership finally came to an end when Khakurel was caught off Shapoor Zadran’s delivery in the 19th over. Bheswakar too was caught in the same over when he top edged and the ball ended up in the gloves of wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad. Nepal finished on 141 for the loss of five wickets.
Nepal had comfortably won their first match against Hong Kong by 80 runs but struggled against Bangladesh going down by eight wickets.
Well done Nepali Cricket Team!!
Really impressed, you made Nepal proud.
(Article Courtesy: ekantipur.com)