In an exhilarating semi-final clash at the Mulpani Ground, Nepal’s national cricket team clinched victory against the United Arab Emirates (UAE), finally securing a spot in the ICC T20 World Cup to be held in America and the West Indies next year. This achievement comes after a decade-long hiatus, marking a historic moment for Nepali cricket.
The semi-final encounter was nothing short of a thriller, with Nepal emerging victorious by a commanding 8 wickets. The UAE was first to take the crease, posting a total of 134 runs for the loss of 9 wickets during their innings. Vriitya Arivand of the UAE stole the limelight by contributing an impressive half-century. His splendid 64 runs off 51 balls included 8 fours and 2 sixes. Nonetheless, the UAE’s promising start was stifled by Nepal’s impeccable bowling performance.
Nepal’s bowlers were in fine form, spearheaded by Sompal Kami’s remarkable run-out of UAE opening batsman Khalid Shah for a mere 3 runs. Muhammad Waseem, who began the innings aggressively, was dismissed for 26 by Karan KC after striking 3 fours and 2 sixes off 16 balls.
Sandeep Lamichhane, a spinner of international repute, made a significant contribution, taking a crucial wicket for Nepal. Sandeep successfully removed Asif Khan, in the tenth over for 13 runs. Kushal Malla, with his fiery precision , also scalped 3 wickets, including two in the final over. The overs by Kushal proved instrumental, as he contained the UAE’s progress, yielding just 11 runs in three overs.
Alishan Sharafu’s resistance came to an end in the 14th over when Kushal Malla secured his wicket. UAE’s Ali Naseer was the next to fall, with Nepal’s captain Rohit Paudel dismissing him, caught by Kushal Bhurtel after scoring a mere 4 runs. This marked the UAE’s total of 100 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 15.5 overs.
In a remarkable display of skill and control, Sandeep Lamichhane delivered an outstanding maiden over. In the 18th over, Sandeep’s expertise saw Basil Hameed fall after scoring just 1 run. The over turned out to be exceptional as he conceded no further runs. Throughout his spell, Sandeep bowled 14 dot balls, leaving the UAE in a difficult spot.
Nepal commenced their innings with opener Kushal Bhurtel, who scored 11 runs before being caught by Muhammad Waseem off Nilansh Keswani in the last ball of the third over. A promising start was later provided by Aasif Sheikh, who crafted a sensational half-century, remaining unbeaten with 64 runs. His explosive inning comprised 6 fours and 2 sixes in 51 balls. The partnership between Aasif Sheikh and skipper Rohit Paudel, who contributed 35* runs off 20 balls, played a pivotal role in Nepal’s victory.
With the scorecard reading 135 for the loss of 2 wickets, Nepal completed the chase in just 17.1 overs, securing their ticket to the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. Aasif Sheikh’s resilience and Bhurtel’s aggressive start combined with a wll crafted innings from captain Rohit Paudel were key to Nepal’s convincing win, with Aasif and Rohit setting the tone for their side’s performance.
This triumph marks a significant achievement for Nepal, and the nation’s cricketing community is now buzzing with excitement as they eagerly anticipate their return to the global stage. The team’s unity and determination were on full display in this crucial match, proving their mettle and readiness to compete against the world’s best in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup.