Gauchan, Malla guide Nepal to six-wicket win
Nepal 122-4 (Malla 52, Jasdeep 2-23) beat USA 121 ( Dodson 39, Gauchan 3-16, Regmi 3-24) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A stifling spell of left-arm spin by Shakti Gauchan halted a runaway start by USA to set the stage for a six-wicket win by Nepal at Stormont on Friday. A double-strike in the 13th over removed the well-set Akeem Dodson for 39 and Japen Patel for 1 to peg USA back at 86 for 6 and from there they stumbled to a meagre total of 121 which Nepal overhauled with two balls to spare.
USA won the toss and elected to bat first under bright sunshine at Stormont as Fahad Babar pulled a four off Sompal Kami in the first over and hooked Karan KC for six in the second to give USA an early lift. He scored 23 of the first 27 runs before he middled a pull straight to backward square leg off Sagar Pun to end the third.
Dodson picked up where Babar left off and pumped Karan for two fours and a six over mid-on in the fourth over to take USA to 41 for 1. That was the last double-digit over of the innings for USA though as Nepal captain Paras Khadka produced a series of bowling changes to put USA off balance.
Shiva Vashishat fell to Kami - beaten for pace trying to flick - for 3 to make it 51 for 2 before Basant Regmi further dented USA's middle order by getting Mrunal Patel lofting to long-off in the ninth over for 7. Regmi struck again in the 11th when Timil Patel tamely prodded back a return catch to make it 73 for 4.
But Gauchan generated the biggest momentum shift by prising out Dodson, getting extra bounce to induce a thick edge to short third man and followed it up shortly after by pinning Japen on the crease. Karan Ganesh and Adil Bhatti kept the Nepalese attack at bay for four overs before Ganesh's patience ran out as he slogged Gauchan to Pradeep Airee at deep midwicket, who claimed an excellent catch over his head just inside the rope to make it 107 for 7.
Another mini-collapse followed with Ganesh's wicket - the first of three to fall for just four runs. Captain Muhammad Ghous chipped Kami gently to Gyanendra Malla in the circle at midwicket before Bhatti finally opted to hit out before he lost any more partners and was clean bowled missing a slog sweep for 14. Jasdeep Singh and Hammad Shahid were left with 11 balls to negotiate and they lasted until the final ball when Singh was run-out going for a third.
Singh gave USA hope at the start of the chase with a gem to knock back Pun's off stump for 6 for his maiden international wicket. USA had a chance to remove both openers when Anil Mandal offered an edge on 8 to Dodson off Shahid but the keeper couldn't hang on to a one-handed diving effort.
From there, Nepal were cautious not to take any risks with the low total in mind and USA responded by staying disciplined in the field. They ended the Powerplay at 27 for 1 and 45 for 1 after nine overs with Gyanendra Malla on 18 off 20 and Mandal 19 in 29 balls. Pressure eased off in the 10th over though when Malla tucked into a meaty full toss from Adil Bhatti and deposited onto the pavilion balcony, 25 yards beyond the rope at midwicket.
The six loosened up Malla as he cracked Ghous for a pair of boundaries in the 12th over and lofted legspinner Timil Patel over extra cover in the 14th for another. Karan Ganesh finally broke the 78-run stand when Mandal pulled to Singh who took a sliding catch at deep midwicket but Malla brought up his fifty off 40 balls on the next delivery with an elegant cut behind point.
Singh breathed air back into his side with a yorker to trap Malla in front for 52 at the start of the 16th over. When Binod Bhandari mistimed a pull off Shahid to start the 19th over, Nepal still needed 13 off 11. The equation was trimmed to eight off the final over bowled by Bhatti but Khadka smashed the first ball over extra cover to deflate USA's fielders and three balls later the winning run was scampered off a leg bye.
Singh was USA's standout bowler on the day with 2 for 23, but with not enough runs to defend, his efforts turned futile. Nepal comes back to Stormont on Saturday to take on Namibia while USA has a day off before they face Ireland in their next match.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna