Kushal Malla and Dipendra Singh Airee starred with the bat and ball as hosts Nepal again overhauled a substantial total to hand a rare defeat to Scotland in the ongoing CWC League 2 trilateral at Kathmandu, to go two from two in their penultimate home series. In a back-and-forth affair, Michael Leask had struck maiden ODI century at number seven to see Scotland recover from 111-6 to post a competitive 274-9. Nepal would suffer an early collapse of their own in the reply, but Malla and Airee’s buccaneering century stand for the sixth wicket put the home side back on top; the latter then holding off a Scottish fightback to close out the win with the tail.
Having secured the title with a win in their series opener against Namibia two days ago, Scotland took the opportunity to blood some young prospects – Jack Jarvis and Tomas Mackintosh coming into the side alongside Chris Sole. The Scots rested Wednesday’s centurion George Munsey as well as Kyle Coetzer and Safyaan Sharif. The new-look top-order struggled against the Nepali spinners; the left-arm spinner Malla removed the makeshift openers Richie Berrington and Chris McBride before the legspin of Lamichhane and Kushal Bhurtel produced three more scalps to bring Leask to the crease with Scotland in trouble at 109-5. In the next over, Lamichhane had Brandon McMullen caught with Nelson on the board. Leask would counter with controlled brutality, clubbing 9 sixes and 3 fours as he raced to his first ODI century off just 79 deliveries. With support from Jarvis and Mark Watt, Leask added 160-runs with the tail, finishing unbeaten with a personal tally of 107 from 85.
The second innings began inauspiciously for the Scots as the wayward Sole gave up a record 23 runs in the first over – the most ever in the opening over of an ODI innings. Berrington persisted with Sole however, and the latter repaid his skipper’s faith by claiming three successive wickets. Berrington’s decision to introduce Mark Watt in the 9th over also paid off at once as Rohit Paudel chopped his first ball straight to backward point. Sundeep Jora fell LBW in Watt’s next over, and despite the rapid run rate, at 77-5 the hosts looked in dire straights.
Malla and Airee’s audacious partnership turned the game however; the pair continuing the brisk scoring as Malla thrice cleared the ropes to reach fifty in 42 balls. The pair would add exactly 100 runs for the 6th wicket before Malla fell for a 67-ball 81 with 98 still needed; Watt drawing a top-edge on the sweep. Airee pressed on with the tail however; Gulshan Jha and Sompal Kami hanging in with him as Airee posted his own half-century, finishing on 85* to take the hosts home with three overs and three wickets to spare.
The win keeps Nepal’s hopes of a top three finish in the League and direct progression to the World Cup Qualifier alive, though that remains a tall order. Another win in their match tomorrow against Namibia would raise their hopes further however, and help them take another step toward safeguarding their ODI status. Scotland will face Namibia on Monday in their penultimate match, before playing their final League 2 fixture in a rematch with Nepal on Tuesday.