Nepal claw back in the field to complete series double in UAE
In a shortened match, Nepal came back from behind on two occasions to win the T20I series 2-1
Nepal 104 for 8 (Khadka 29, Jora 28, Naveed 2-6) beat UAE 90 for 8 (Shaiman 30, Shabber 25, Karan 2-13) by 14 runs
Sitting through a rare desert rain delay of two hours and 15 minutes was well worth the wait for tourists Nepal, who repeated their ODI series feat of coming back from 0-1 down to win the T20I series 2-1 thanks to an improbable effort led by captain Paras Khadka and the resilient pace bowling duo of Karan KC and Abinash Bohara.
In a match reduced to 10 overs per side, UAE put Nepal in and got off to a dream start when stand-in captain Mohammad Naveed produced a wicket-maiden with the new ball, claiming Pawan Sarraf caught behind off the fourth ball of the match. Gyanendra Malla and Dipendra Singh Airee fell in quick succession to leave Nepal 21 for 3 before Khadka and Sundeep Jora began their counterattack.
The captain top-scored with 29 and was well supported by teenager Jora, who cracked three sixes in a whirlwind 28 off 11 balls before falling with nine balls left in the innings. After Khadka and Jora's fantastic legwork to get Nepal in position for a major launch in the final over, Amir Hayat bowled an excellent 10th in which three wickets fell off the final four balls to contain Nepal to 104.
Once again, the first over of the innings went heavily in favor of the UAE as Ghulam Shabber slog swept Sandeep Lamichhane for six and four off the first two balls, followed by another boundary driven through cover. Five wides down leg later in the frame resulted in a 20-run first over to put UAE in the driver's seat.
The fall of Ashfaq Ahmed at the end of the second over didn't slow down UAE either. Shaiman Anwar announced his arrival to the crease by cutting Karan over point for six before driving Sompal Kami back over his head for another maximum to take the hosts to 50 for 1 after 4 overs.
But as they had in the first innings, Nepal showed tremendous fight to claw their way back into the match. As good as the bowlers were to produce chances, the Nepal fielding was spectacular to convert them into wickets. With 33 needed off the last three overs, Shaiman began the eighth skying Karan over mid-off, where Malla charged in 30 yards from the boundary for a sensational diving catch. It began a stretch of five wickets in 14 balls with the Nepal vice-captain a central figure in three of them.
Two balls after Shaiman fell, Naveed slogged Karan to Sarraf at deep midwicket for a golden duck. With eight balls to go, UAE needed 21 to win and Bohara delivered a knee high full toss to Mohammad Boota, but he couldn't clear Malla at deep midwicket.
Teenage left-arm spinner Lalit Rajbanshi was then tasked with defending 19 off the final over. CP Rizwan drove the first ball high over Rajbanshi down the ground for what appeared a certain boundary but Malla emerged again from long-off and sprinted 25 yards right before diving to pull off his second stunner in the space of 15 minutes. Hayat skied a full toss over extra cover on the next ball but Khadka ran back from the ring to clasp onto a sharp over-the-shoulder catch to put Rajbanshi on a hat-trick.
Sultan Ahmed could only manage a pair of twos off the next two balls to hand Nepal the match and the series. While Karan was named Player of the Match for swinging the momentum back Nepal's way with a double-strike in the eighth over, 21-year-old Bohara was named Man of the Series on debut after topping the charts with six wickets, including five in Nepal's back-to-back wins.