A thrilling chase from Nepal fell just short of producing victory on their WCL Championship debut as Scotland captain Preston Mommsen's first-innings 62-ball 78 was just enough for the hosts to cling on
A thrilling chase from Nepal fell just short of producing victory on their WCL Championship debut as Scotland captain Preston Mommsen's first-innings 62-ball 78 was just enough for the hosts to cling on for a three-run win. Anil Mandal's century anchored the Nepal chase but it was captain Paras Khadka who thrilled the hundreds of Nepal supporters that bussed in from Glasgow with a bold 70 off 55 balls before falling with eight balls to go.
When Gyanendra Malla mistimed a sweep to be caught at square leg for 18, Khadka entered at 76 for 2 with 18 overs remaining in the reduced 36-over affair and Nepal needing 160 runs to overhaul their target. Khadka found a willing ally in Mandal, who was on 36 when their 139-run stand began.
Khadka started to kick things into high gear in the 23rd over, mauling Michael Leask for six out of the ground over long-on. He was dropped on 38 off Safyaan Sharif by Con de Lange, but remained positive and continued to surge ahead with hopes of an improbable victory and brought up his 50 from 45 balls when he was dropped for a second time, by Leask on the boundary off Gavin Main.
Khadka kept on kicking with a six and a ramped four off Alasdair Evans to end the 33rd over, bringing the equation down to 40 off the final three overs. Sharif conceded two more boundaries as part of a 15-run 34th and victory was in sight with 25 needed off two overs and eight wickets in hand.
A superb 35th bowled by Main, though, resulted in wickets from back-to-back balls. Khadka's luck finally ran out when he skied a chance to Berrington in the deep before Sharad Vesawkar was run out without facing to swing momentum back Scotland's way. Nepal still held an outside chance of winning, with 17 needed off the final over and Mandal on strike against Sharif, but Berrington reappeared at deep midwicket to snuff out Mandal's innings with another catch.
Big-hitting tailender Sompal Kami was sent in at No. 7 to swing for the fences and a single by Pradeep Airee put him on strike. He duly cracked his first ball for six, as the see-saw equation left Nepal needing 10 off three balls. But a pair of singles off the next two balls meant a six off the final ball would not even produce a tie and Kami hit the delivery for four to end a lively affair in front of a passionate pro-Nepal crowd at Cambusdoon Sports Club.
Despite clear skies all morning, play started three hours and 15 minutes late due to several wet patches along the 30-yard circle from overnight rain. Ground staff feverishly spread sawdust over the damp areas until umpires Ian Ramage and Shaun George deemed the field suitable enough for play. Nepal won the toss and elected to field first, but Scotland got off to a confident start reaching 42 for no loss in the seven-over Powerplay.
George Munsey offered a chance in the seventh over, mistiming a pull on 12 with a top edge going to ground at long leg as Basant Regmi had trouble judging the ball in a swirling wind. The miss only cost Nepal seven runs though as Munsey began the eighth mistiming a drive in the air over mid-on off Karan KC as Malla ran back to take an excellent tumbling catch.
With the first wicket under their belts, Nepal's bowlers found their groove. Khadka started with a two-over spell from the Alloway Road End, but switched to bowl from the Pavilion End in the 12th. After the first ball of the over was driven for six by Matthew Cross, Khadka came back slightly shorter and the ball skidded on to trap Cross playing across for 20 at 67 for 2.
Left-arm spinner Regmi then stepped up with a superb spell to pull Scotland back further. Craig Wallace was his first victim, playing back to a fuller flighted delivery and was bowled for 2. Kyle Coetzer had made 27 off 32 balls before Regmi's arrival, but found the spinner difficult to get away, scoring just seven runs off the 13 deliveries he faced against him, and eventually gave a thin edge prodding forward to depart for 41 four balls after the drinks break.
Mandal then produced an inspired bit of fielding, charging in from short fine leg after Berrington's call from the non-striker's end for a single and producing a run-out with a direct hit. Mommsen countered by smashing two half-trackers from Rajesh Pulami over wide long-on for back-to-back sixes, to knock the debutant out of the attack.
Mommsen and de Lange proceeded to add 113 for the sixth wicket with de Lange controlling the early part of the stand. De Lange clubbed Karan for two fours and a six back over the bowler's head in the 30th. Mommsen then assumed control again, notching his fifty off 52 balls with a single in the 32nd off an ineffective Shakti Gauchan, who finished with 0 for 36 in his seven overs.
Mommsen then stepped on the accelerator in the 33rd, targeting Regmi for a series of slog sweeps that sent two fours and a six sailing into a tent positioned beyond the square leg boundary. The Scotland captain then confidently hooked Kami for six and cut him fine for four before his attempt to repeat the shot produced a bottom edge on to his stumps to end the 34th.
By that stage though Scotland had put themselves in a commanding position and closed off the final seven overs with an 86-run surge as de Lange walked off unbeaten on 55. Nepal's last seven in the field, combined with a timid Powerplay of 24 for 0 to start their chase, doomed them in the end.