A valiant effort from Aarif Sheikh and Sompal Kami went in vain as Nepal signed off from their USA tour with a 39-run loss to the hosts in their fourth Triangular Series of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 in Texas on Wednesday.
USA recovered twice with the bat to muster a challenging 245-7 after Nepal skipper Sandeep Lamichhane put them in. Nepal didn’t have the best of the start before they were left reeling at 93-5 by the 22nd over. Aarif and Sompal pulled Nepal back in the match with a record sixth wicket partnership of 106 runs.
But once Saurav Netravalkar removed Aarif, it took no time for Nepali innings to fold. Losing their last five wickets for just eight runs under pressure, Nepal made 206 all out in 47.4 overs.
The defeat might deal Nepal a blow in their bid to round up inside the top three and directly qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup Global Qualifiers. With 20 matches yet to play, Nepal are currently in the fifth spot of the seven-team tournament collecting 15 points from 16 games.
Oman have played all their 36 games and sit at the top with 44 points. Scotland (28 off 20), UAE (26 off 22) and USA (24 off 23) are chasing Oman.
In the match on Wednesday, Dev Khanal made 34 from top five but was undone by a solid 70-yard direct hit from Saiteja Mukamalla. Opener Kushal Bhurtel (10) and Aasif Sheikh (18) both fell to Ali Khan, while Rohit Kumar Paudel (16) and Dipendra Singh Airee (seven) hardly troubled USA bowlers.
Aarif and Sompal rebuilt the innings and got involved in a face saving sixth wicket stand. It was fifth century partnership for Nepal in the format with Aarif involved in three of them. Just when the two batsmen were trying to go after the bowlers, wickets began to crumble for Nepal. Netravalkar also affected the run out of Sompal.
Aarif scored a 76-ball 63 with three hits to the fence and Sompal made 47 from 72. Netravalkar and Ali took three wickets each for USA.
Earlier, Karan KC once again gave a desired start reducing USA to 8-2. Sushan Modani and Aaron Jones (43) consolidated the USA innings with an 88-run partnership. Modani departed soon for falling to Sandeep for an 83-ball 54 as USA were 110-4 in 27.3 overs.
Gajanand Singh and Mukkamalla (36) led USA towards what ultimately was a winning total. Gajananda struck a 60-ball 58 hitting five fours and a six. Karan took 3-67 and Sandeep snared 2-43 for Nepal.