Netherlands 189 (Rippon 51, Khadka 4-26, Kami 3-34) beat Nepal 134 (Malla 51, Seelar 3-20, Rippon 3-23, Klaassen 3-30) by 55 runs
Nepal captain Paras Khadka's sensational four-wicket haul gave the ODI debutants a stirring start, but his opposite number Pieter Seelaar answered the challenge with a stifling spell of left-arm spin to defend 189 in a 55-run win at the VRA Ground, denying Nepal's effort to become the seventh country to win their maiden one-day international.
Nepal were cruising at the start of their chase of 190, behind a 58-run opening stand between vice-captain Gyanendra Malla and wicketkeeper Anil Sah. Malla entertained with a classy array of flicks off his pads, striking eight fours in his 51 off 61 balls.
But Seelaar sparked a middle-order collapse two balls after the first drinks break, getting Khadka to drive a catch to Michael Rippon at extra-cover for 12. Rippon trapped Malla in front in the next over after he was late on an attempted sweep. Seelaar and Rippon then led a middle-order duck parade as Aarif Sheikh, Sompal Kami and Basant Regmi all fell to the spin duo without scoring as Nepal fell to 104 for 6.
Their chase was further hampered by a first-innings fielding injury sustained by Sharad Vesawkar, and the middle-order rock was kept back to No. 11. Nepal needed 67 to win by the time he walked in, as left-arm seamer Fred Klaassen, who earlier had broken the opening stand by getting Sah to edge to second slip, claimed Karan KC and Sandeep Lamichhane with a pair of steepling deliveries edged behind to Scott Edwards.
Vesawkar's right hand was still bothering him during his short innings, which ended when he edged teenaged allrounder Bas de Leede behind for the final wicket as Nepal were bowled out for 134 in 41.5 overs.
Netherlands got off to a rollicking start after choosing to bat under sunny skies. After Sompal Kami beat Dan ter Braak for pace in the third over to notch Nepal's maiden wicket in ODI cricket, Ben Cooper and Stephan Myburgh added 45 for the second wicket in just 4.5 overs. The pair smacked Karan KC out of the attack - he leaked 24 in his three-over new ball spell.
The talismanic Khadka responded by taking a wicket with his fourth ball, gaining a favorable lbw decision off a ball that Ben Cooper appeared to inside-edge onto his pads. Once the stand was broken, it opened the door for Lamichhane to make his presence felt and the legspinner removed the dangerous Myburgh for 29 after the left-hander played inside a googly. Khadka struck a second time in the 16th over, getting Wesley Barresi edging to Sheikh at slip to leave the Dutch in trouble at 72 for 4.
But Man of the Match Rippon began his terrific all-round show with a gritty half-century to repel the Nepal spin attack. He only struck two boundaries in his 51 off 76, but was alert to pounce on any Nepal misfields for sharp second runs to the sweeping boundary riders as the Dutch showcased aggressive running between the wickets. Rippon and de Leede's 68-run stand got the innings back on track, with 18-year-old de Leede playing an unsung role in his 30 off 60 balls, which included an exquisite drive for six over long-on off Lamichhane.
Kami backed up his sharp opening spell by coming back to remove de Leede. Left-arm spinner Basant Regmi had Seelaar slog-sweeping to short midwicket in the 38th where Shakti Gauchan, in what may wind up being his only ODI before retirement, knifed a brilliant one-handed catch reaching left. Khadka then struck twice in the next over, snaring Rippon with a slower ball mistimed to mid-on before Shane Snater inside-edged a ball onto his stumps for Khadka's fourth to make it 159 for 8.
But the Dutch tail wagged for a crucial 30 runs. Wicketkeeper Scott Edwards made 18 and added 26 for the ninth wicket with Klaassen before he fell leg-before to Karan after missing a flick across the line. Kami ended his excellent day getting Klaassen to top-edge a pull to Sah behind the stumps.
All momentum was tilting Nepal's way and it continued that way early in their reply, only for Seelaar and Rippon's tag-team effort to derail the chase. The two teams meet again at the same ground on Friday in the final match of the series.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna