Nepal and Kenya had both set out to win maximum points from their two matches of the ICC World Cricket League in Kathmandu on 11 and 13 March but their hopes of increasing their chances of a top-four finish were dashed as they split points.
The Netherlands side is presently at the top of the points table with 16 points from 10 matches while Papua New Guinea is second with 12 points from eight matches. Hong Kong and Scotland are both on 11 points from 10 and eight matches, respectively.
The top four sides from among the eight sides will make it to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, which will also feature the four bottom sides from the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings as on 30 September 2017 and two top sides from the WCL Division 2.
Nepal’s stand-in captain Gyanendra Malla felt the tournament is still wide open and he was happy to see the youngers players perform well.
“We will need to do well in all remaining matches and then hope the other results go in our favour. Having said that, it will not be so easy moving forward and we will have to play quality cricket. It was good to see one of our under-19 players, Dipendra Airee, score a mature fifty in only his second international match while our under-19 captain Sandeep Lamichhane also bowled well in both matches,” said Malla, who led the side after regular captain Paras Khadka was indisposed due to illness.
Airee scored 62 in the second match, in which Malla (64 not out) guided the team to victory in the company of all-rounder Sharad Vesawkar, who followed up his haul of four for 28 with an unbeaten 24.
Malla said his team had been hoping to win both matches but was unlucky that the first match was affected by rain.
“We could have done better in the first match but unfortunately the weather did not help the cause then. The rain came during crucial intervals and that killed the momentum whenever we were doing well,” he said.
In a match reduced to 36 overs at the start, Nepal was restricted to 112 for eight with left-arm spinner Shem Ngoche and pace bowler Nelson Odhiambo sharing five scalps. Kenya’s target was reset to 94 in 26 overs under the Duckworth-Lewis Stern method after another interruption.
Kenya captain Rakep Patel though felt his team had no advantage due to the rain.
“Both teams were aware of the situation before the toss. I think the game was won on the execution, when we bowled. We would have been more satisfied with two wins. It didn’t go as planned in the second match but the good thing is that all is not lost. The most important objective for us is to finish in the top four,” Patel said.
“I think the highlight for us in this series was the way we performed as a bowling unit in the first game. The fielding effort and overall execution by our bowlers was the pick of the tour for us. Our matches in India (Vadodara) in preparation for these matches helped us as we were playing against a strong opposition in sub-continent conditions,” he added.
Scores in brief:
First match on 11 March:
Kenya beat Nepal by five wickets
Nepal 112-8 in 36 overs (Gyanendra Malla 27, Shem Ngoche 3-18, Nelson Odhiambo 2-17).
Kenya (target 94 in 26 overs) 98-5 in 24.1 overs (Rakep Patel 34 not out, Collins Obuya 24, Sagar Pun 2-8, Sandeep Lamichhane 2-21)
Second match on 13 March:
Nepal beat Kenya by seven wickets
Kenya 155 all out in 46.1 overs (Collins Obuya 48, Irfan Karim 38, Sharad Vesawkar 4-28).
Nepal 160-3 in 30.2 overs (Gyanendra Malla 64 not out, Dipendra Airee 62, Elijah Otieno 2-29).