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Nepal 111 for 6 (Dipendra 47*, Sultan 2-9) beat United Arab Emirates 107 (Rizwan 44, Bohara 3-20) by four wickets
Dipendra Singh Airee spared Nepal's blushes with an unbeaten 47 as Nepal snuck past UAE by four wickets in a low-scoring thriller at ICC Academy in Dubai.
Dipendra helped rescue the side after a top-order collapse left Nepal at 46 for 5 in the 11th over chasing a target of 108. But a crucial 55-run stand with Pawan Sarraf took the game into the final over. Sarraf fell off the first ball of the 20th, caught at long-on, but Dipendra crossed with the ball in the air to be on strike for the following delivery. He promptly drove the bowler Zahoor Khan for six down the ground to level the scores before a slash over backward point clinched victory with three balls to spare in front of 1000 roaring Nepalese supporters.
Victory seemed assured for Nepal at the innings break but they nearly threw away the opportunity to level the series with several loose shots. Captain Paras Khadka miscued a drive to cover point off the second ball of the chase to fall for a golden duck to Mohammad Naveed. Pradeep Airee then cut Amir Hayat to the same region in the following over to make it 9 for 2.
Vice-captain Gyanendra Malla fell defending down the wrong line to left-arm spinner Sultan Ahmed before two more sloppy dismissals put Nepal in a further hole. Karan KC, promoted to No. 3 as a pinch-hitter, did a reasonable job clubbing two fours and a six to reach 20 before he was bowled slogging Imran Haider's legspin. Sundeep Jora, who had scored his maiden half-century on T20I debut a day earlier, drove Sultan to long-on for 1 on the first ball of the 11th to put half of Nepal's line-up back in the dugout.
But Dipendra held firm and found a willing ally in Sarraf. UAE had an opportunity to break the stand at 59 for 5 in the 14th when Sarraf turned down a single to backward point, but a rushed throw missed the stumps at the non-striker's end by a long way with Dipendra still five yards short. On 15 at the time, UAE paid dearly as Dipendra saw Nepal home.
The low target for Nepal was set up after another exceptional bowling effort spearheaded by Sompal Kami. The fast bowler struck twice in the space of four balls in his opening two overs, getting Ashfaq Ahmed to sky a catch to Malla running in from mid-off before Ghulam Shabber's attempted cut resulted in a caught behind.
Sandeep Lamichhane was on a hat-trick after striking on the final two balls of the Powerplay, getting Shaiman Anwar driving to point before Muhammad Usman edged his first ball to slip to make it 35 for 4. Seamer Abinash Bohara also produced a solid spell with his whippy action to take three wickets in the middle overs to keep UAE pinned back. Opener CP Rizwan battled until the 19th over to make 44 off 43 balls, but only two others reached double-figures for UAE.
The two sides play the third and final match of the series at ICC Academy on Sunday.