Spirited Nepal overcome Asif’s record ton to book World Cup qualifier berth

KIRTIPUR: United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) Asif Khan struck the fourth-fastest century in Men’s ODIs but Nepal held their nerves in check to claim a nine-run victory by Duckworth–Lewis–Stern (DLS) method and sealed their spot in the Cricket World Cup qualifiers.

Nepal were earlier set to chase 311 in 50 overs but with six overs left, the umpires decided that the play couldn’t continue due to bad light and the hosts were nine runs ahead of the DLS.

Nepal had a contrasting start to the run chase as they lost two quick wickets for just six runs in the second over as Aasif Sheikh (5) and Kushal Malla (0) perished cheaply.

Opening batter Kushal Bhurtel then attempted to anchor the run chase with a brief 31-run partnership for the third wicket with skipper Rohit Paudel (16 off 25) before the latter perished in the seventh over. At 37/3, Nepal appeared to have faltered in the all-important clash.

However, Bhim Sarki (67) joined hands with Bhurtel (50) and then Aarif Sheikh (52) led Nepal’s fightback in the middle overs and brought the hosts back in the hunt.

As the umpires decided to call off the action due to bad light after 44 overs, Nepal were ahead of the necessary DLS score thanks to a surge from 17-year-old Gulsan Jha’s (50*) in the later overs.

Earlier, Asif Khan’s fourth-fastest century in Men’s ODIs powered UAE to post a massive total of 310/6 which, however, turned out to be insufficient in the end.

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