Kushal Bhurtel’s maiden one-day century saw Nepal record their highest successful chase in ODIs to best Namibia in the opening match of the one-but-last trilateral series of the ongoing CWC League 2 at Kirtipur. The tourists had looked the happier side at the break with an imposing 285 on the board, Michael van Lingen the day’s first centurion contributing 133 from first drop to leave Nepal needing to pass their highest ever ODI total to claim victory. But Bhurtel would prove equal to the task, batting almost through the innings from first ball only to fall for 115 with just 4 needed as Nepal stumbled over the line amidst a flurry of late wickets, eight down in the 48th over.
Both innings were dominated by third-wicket partnerships between the two sides’ centurions and skippers. Van Lingen found support from captain Gerhard Erasmus, who contributed 46 off 79 as the pair took Namibia from 45-2 to 169-3. Erasmus then picked out the returning Sandeep Lamichhane in the deep looking to force the pace off Kushal Malla with 14 overs to go. Van Lingen pressed on with the middle order, but Karan KC would again make a Valentine’s impression, as he and famous February 14th collaborator Lamichhane claimed regular wickets at the back of the innings. Karan would finish with five scalps to his name, including that of van Lingen for a 137-ball 133, finishing with figures of 5-61 as Namibia were bowled out on the final ball of the innings for 285.
Despite the early loss of the in-form Aasif Sheikh who played around an arm ball from Bernhard Scholtz in the second over, Bhurtel would ensure Nepal stayed ahead of the game from then on. A brisk half-century partnership with Gyanendra Malla restored the home crowd’s cheer, and Malla’s departure for 25, LBW to legspinner Nicol Loftie Eaton for 25, did nothing to slow the scoring. Young skipper Rohit Paudel joined Bhurtel and together the pair added 133 for the third wicket at almost a run a ball to take Nepal within a hundred runs of victory with 17 overs to go.
Ruben Trumpelmann broke the partnership after the second drinks break, holding a return catch off a slower ball to dismiss Paudel for 72, and then struck in each of his next two overs to put the pressure back on the hosts. Sundeep Jora and Karan KC would hang in with Bhurtel long enough to all-but seal the match however. Bhurtel himself fell with the end in sight, caught in the deep off Loftie-Eaton looking for the winning boundary, and Lamichhane went in similar fashion looking to loft his first ball over the rope before Sompal Kami punched the hat-trick ball through the covers for four to seal the win.
Namibia will have little time to regroup, being back in action tomorrow to take on Scotland at the same ground. The hosts meanwhile have a couple of days to enjoy the win before facing the Scots on Friday.