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By Abhijit Banare
Mar 20, 2014
Nepal registered a stunning nine-run victory over Afghanistan in the ICC World T20 2014 Round One Grpup A match. Nepal’s victory was set up by Subash Khukare‘s career-best T20 score of 56 and a disciplined bowling annihilating the Afghan batsmen who panicked towards the end only to lose their way.
Afghanistan were a touch too overconfident chasing 142 and paid the price only to make the match evenly balanced. The Afghan bowlers were carted all around by Khakurel and Sharad Vesawkar which gave some confidence to Nepal in defending the score. During the innings break, a confident Shubhash felt it was a par score and backed the bowlers to contain the opposition.
But the Nepal bowlers didn’t have to work hard except for the initial three overs which made run-scoring tough. The extra bounce in the pitch kept the batsmen on their toes. Though the aggressive Mohammad Shahzad got a boundary with a wild swing over mid-on, he failed to time the ball more often. Shahzad hung on but it was Karim Sadiq who was done in by a delivery from pacer Sompal Kami which skid past his bottom edge and crashed into the stumps. The early wicket wasn’t going to trouble the Afghans who boasted of a solid middle-order with Nawroz, Mangal, Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Stanikzai.
It was Najibullah Zadran who walked in at No 3. The slow start somehow kept Shahzad impatient. He finally perished after an attempt for a big hit flew towards deep thirdman where he was caught comfortably. With Shahzad gone, the run-scoring was sure to slow down. Jitendra Mukhiya couldn’t believe his wicket when the Afghans chose to gift another wicket in the next ball as Najibullah played a reckless shot only to be caught by mid-off. With three down for 20, Nepal had a firm grip over the proceedings, thanks to careless approach from the opposition.
Shafiqullah then eased up some pressure with three consecutive boundaries off spinner Basant Regmi. The nervousness was visible on the faces of Stanikzai and Mangal. The latter eventually fell, trying to go for a slow sweep, getting a top-edge and caught by skipper Paras Khadka. Left-arm spinner Shakti Gauchan gave one more wicket in the over removing skipper Mohammad Nabi.
In the 14th over, Regmi came back to dismiss the set batsman Shafiqullah for 36. Afghanistan needed 56 from the last five overs with four wickets in hand. The Nepal bowlers need to be lauded for not getting carried away and keeping a tight length. With Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari, the chase was still alive.
The bowlers kept their calm and brought the equation down to 24 from the last over with Stanikzai still intact. He swung two boundaries on the first two balls for boundaries and the fourth one as well. But Kami managed to get the wicket of Stanikzai
Afghanistan, apart from their unplanned batting, will rue the easy runs conceded by the bowlers early on. The 18-run over off Shenwari in the sixth over of the match gave the Nepal batsmen a lot of confidence. It was the 76-run fourth wicket stand between Khakurel and Vesawkar in 55 balls which set the tone for the Nepal total of 141 for five.
Nepal 141 for 5 in 20 overs (Subash Khakurel 56; Shapoor Zadran 2 for 19) beat Afghanistan 132 for 8 in 20 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 49, Shafiqullah 36; Jitendra Mukhiya 3 for 18) by 9 runs.
Man of the Match: Jitendra Mukhiya
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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