Mandal and Khadka heroics not enough as Nepal fall short
After a Twenty20 Qualifier campaign which saw Nepal struggle, finish last in their group and lose their T20I status, few would have expected them to get close to the team that were joint winners of the tournament.
But fine innings from Anil Mandal and Paras Khadka got them close to starting their first World Cricket League Championship campaign with a win at Cambusdoon New Ground in Ayr.
A damp pitch meant that play was delayed until 2:30, with Scotland batting first after losing the toss in the now 36 over contest. They batted in similar fashion to the Twenty20 Qualifier, scoring quickly - if not quite as fast - at the start of the innings. George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer opened the innings with a 42 run partnership in the first 7 overs before Munsey was the first man out.
The innings started to slow down once Matthew Cross was out in the 12th over. Coetzer was the fourth man out once he'd scored 41, and the 5th wicket fell in the 22nd over, with the score on 101. It was skipper Preston Mommsen who got Scotland back into the game, scoring 78 from 62 balls, sharing in a 113 run partnership for the sixth wicket with Con de Lange.
The final total for Scotland was 235-7, with de Lange unbeaten on 55 from 41 balls.
The Nepal reply started slowly, and when Gyanendra Malla was the second man out at the halfway stage, they had scored just 76, well behind the required rate. But the wicket of Malla brought Khadka to the crease, and he proceeded to play the sort of innings the Nepal fans wanted him to be playing during the T20 Qualifier.
He scored 70 from just 55 balls before he was out, but this was no slogging innings, as less than half the runs came in boundaries. He rotated the strike well with Anil Mandal, who opened the innings and now shared in a 139 run partnership for the third wicket with Khadka before the latter was out.
When Khadka was out, Nepal needed 20 from 8 balls. Sharad Vesawkar was run out without facing a ball from the next delivery, attempting to stretch a single into two. A wide and two from the last ball meant that they needed 17 from the final over.
The turning point perhaps came when Berrington took a great catch at midwicket to dismiss him from the first ball of the final over, but not before he'd made a fine century from 93 balls. Pradeep Airee ran a single from the next ball, followed by Sompal Kami hitting a six to make it 10 needed from three balls. But two more singles led to an impossible eight runs needed from the last ball, meaning that Kami's four just wasn't enough, and Scotland had won by three runs.
Great to see such a battling performance from Nepal, but their fans will be justified in asking where this fighting display was in the Twenty20 Qualifier. The teams meet again at the same venue on Friday.