His stand with Amini leads team to two-wicket win after Khakurel and Vesawkar help Nepal post 232 for 8
Papua New Guinea stormed to its first win of the ICC World Cricket League Championship, beating Nepal by two wickets in a veritable thriller at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday (November 16). Assad Vala was the star for PNG, putting in an all-round display that propelled it to victory with just three balls to spare.
Batting first, Nepal posted 232 for 8, thanks to half-centuries from Subhash Khakurel and Sharad Vesawkar. Then, PNG got its chase off to a good start, and though it kept losing wickets, Assad Vala’s defiant 107-ball 82 kept it in the chase. He put on 65 runs for the seventh wicket with Charles Amini (35), and though both players were dismissed late in the game, PNG managed to sneak through to claim a big win.
Ahead of the match, both teams were yet to get off the mark in the points table, having lost the two matches they played. Scotland got the better of Nepal twice in July-August, while the Netherlands beat PNG in both legs in June. The victory and two points on Monday lifted PNG to seventh in the eight-team table.
Nepal’s innings got off to a poor start as Anil Mandal was trapped in front by Norman Vanua, the medium-pacer, off the very first ball of the innings. A second wicket followed when Chad Soper dismissed Sagar Pun in a similar manner, before Khakurel and Gyanendra Malla put on 47 for the third wicket to steady the innings.
However, the stand was broken when John Reva trapped Malla (23) in front with his medium pace. Paras Khadka, the captain, then managed just a 16-ball 6 before falling to Mahuru Dai, and Nepal was reduced to 86 for 4. Khakurel found some support once again when Vesawkar came to the middle, and the two added a fine 56 for the fifth wicket, scoring at well over 4.5 runs an over.
The stand was broken when Khakurel fell to Dai, and thereafter, Vesawkar led a solo effort for a bit, as both Sompal Kami (8) and Mahaboob Alam (3) departed in quick succession. But with the arrival of Basant Regmi, Vesawkar had some support. The two put on 52 runs in just 47 balls to boost the total well past the 200-mark. Vesawkar was dismissed by Vala in the final over, after an 82-ball 78, but his knock had given Nepal a strong total.
PNG’s chase got off to a steady start, with Vani Morea and Tony Ura, the openers, putting on 35 for the opening wicket. Ura had scored a quick 26-ball 30 when he fell to Khadka’s medium pace. Thereafter, the Nepal bowlers chipped away every now and then, the PNG batsmen finding it hard to stitch together a decisive partnership.
All the while, Vala sealed up one end, having come in at No. 4. He put on 24 each for the third and fourth wickets with Morea (12) and Sese Bau (15), and 37 for the fifth wicket with Dai. However, it was not until the arrival of Amini that he found able support.
The two added a fine 65 for the seventh wicket, scoring at over four runs every over. They put emphasis on keeping their wickets intact, and their dalliance rekindled PNG’s hopes of completing the chase. From 138 for 6, they had taken the total past the 200-mark when the stand was broken, Kami disturbing Amini’s stumps after his 42-ball 35. Vala held firm to inch the total closer to the target when, with eight needed for victory, he was sent back by Shakti Gauchan.
However, it was too little too late for Nepal as John Reva, who scored an unbeaten 19-ball 15, helped see the chase through.
The two teams will clash again on Wednesday.
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