All rounder Karan KC inspired Nepal to qualify for the 2019 World Cup qualifier with his fearless hitting to thrash Canada by one wicket in thrilling last over of the ongoing ICC World Cricket League Division II match played at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek, Namibia, on Wednesday.
KC walked to the middle, at a stage when Nepal were reeling at 144/8, still needing 51 runs off 48 balls for victory with just two wickets intact.
Unsung all rounder KC smashed flamboyant 42 runs off just 31 balls which included four humongous sixes and three cracking fours to snatch a match from clutches of Canada.
Man of the match KC opened his account with a straight drive four past the bowler to the long-of region before lofting a six to long-on region off Keyliner delivery in the same over.
In the penultimate over of the innings, KC, who hit two consecutive four and six before stealing a single off last ball of the over to keep strike with himself, brought down the equation to eight off six balls in the last over.
Cecil Pervez was given a responsibility by his captain to defend eight runs off the last over, bowled four dot balls, Keeping Canada in the hunt; however, KC had other ideas as he hit six of the penultimate delivery to long-on boundary.
Nepal still required two runs off the last delivery, Pervez under pressure bowled a wayward wide delivery to tie the score before KC hit a winning run of the last ball to take his team over the line.
Dilip Nath, who was left out for clash against Kenya, was drafted in for today’s crucial encounter as he justified his selection with his measured 41 runs off 68 balls with five hit to the fence.
Nepal’s pathetic form with the bat continued as they again lost early wickets, Gyanendra Malla perished after scoring painstaking 9 runs off 25 balls before hitting a six.
Skipper Paras Khadka, who has been a backbone of Nepal’s batting order fell for a rare golden duck after miscuing a pull to mid wicket region off short ball.
Sarad Vesawkar one of the senior pro of the team, who is yet to make a substantial contribution with the bat fell again cheaply for 1 run. He followed Nath back to pavilion in the 22.1 overs leaving the team hovering at 73/4.
Lower order batsmen Aarif Sheikh and RK Paudel again contributed valuable 26 and 27 runs respectively before KC and Lamichanne shared a match winning tenth wicket 51 runs partnership to take the team home.
Pervez took three Nepali wickets, Dutta and Saad Bin Zafar bagged two wickets each, Dhindsa, Heyliger chipped in with a wicket each for Canada.
Nepal were given a target of 195 runs by Canada in a last and crucial encounter of the tournament.
After winning the toss, Nepali skipper Khadka had opted to field first.
Canada rode on Srimantha Wijeratne’s unbeaten century to post a challenging total for Nepal in a do-or-die encounter today. Wijeratne smashed 103 runs in 152 balls, studded with eight boundaries.
Hamza Tariq and Saad Bin Zafar contributed 24 and 10 runs respectively.
Other Canadian batsmen failed to register double digit score as they wilted to after being put on tremendous pressure by Nepali bowlers, who bowled in tandem to tandem.
Spinner Basanta Regmi was picking of the bowler with 10-0-34-3.
Sandeep Lamichanne took two Canadian scalps where as Karan KC and Sarad Vesawkar chipped in with a wicket each.
The match was halted for while due to sporadic rainfall, had it been decided by Duck worth Lewis method Nepal would have lost to Canada by 10 runs. At that stage the par score was 125 but Nepal were 10 runs short to the total.
However, the black cloud hovering over Windhoek triggered light drizzle which brought luck in Nepal favour.
Earlier, Nepal beat the hosts Namibia by one-wicket before facing a six-wicket lost at the hands of Oman. Nepal bounced back to thrash the United Arab Emirates by four wickets and registered a three wickets triumph over Kenya in the last ball thriller.
Nepal are pitted in Group A along with West Indies, Ireland, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea where as the other qualifier UAE sit in Group B along with Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Hong Kong.
The top three teams in each group will qualify for Super Sixes; others move into play-offs. Top two teams in Super Six make the final–both qualify for 2019 World Cup to be held in England and Wales.
What is next Nepal has to face?
Nepal along with UAE has secured their berth at the 2019 World Cup qualifier to be held next month in Zimbabwe. Bottom two teams have been relegated to Division III.
Nepal and the UAE have booked their tickets for the 2019 ICC World Cup Cricket Qualifiers to be played in Zimbabwe from March 4-25.
Other teams that have already qualified for the tournament are: the West Indies, Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Hong Kong.
Nepal and the UAE now play the final of the Division II tournament final on Wednesday. The result of the match will determine the group Nepal will be pitted in during the qualifiers. If Nepal wins the final against UAE, they will be placed in Group A of the tournament alongside the West Indies, Ireland, the Netherlands and PNG.
If Nepal loses the final, they will be placed in Group B alongside Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and Scotland. Top three teams from each group qualify for the super sixes stage in which each team play five matches. Two teams that finish the super sixes on top play the final, as well as qualify for the 2019 world cup. In addition to this, the top three associate countries earn ODI status for four years.
These countries will be playing ICC Qualifier matches for WC.
- West Indies
- Hong Kong