Bertus de Jong
Nepal bounced back from a crushing 7-wicket defeat to close out a disciplined 19-run victory over the Dutch in the WCLC on Monday.
Having been rolled for 94 on Saturday as the Dutch wrapped up a win with 199 balls remaining, Nepal came back strongly in the second match to post only their fourth 200-plus target in List A cricket, captain Paras Khadka's 84 underpinning a total of 217-9, before bowling the hosts out for 198.
With Netherlands stand-in captain Pieter Seelaar again winning the toss and inserting the tourists, Nepal again looked uncomfortable early as the Dutch opening bowlers Timm van der Gugten and Vivian Kingma reepeatedly beat the edge early, and Kingma eventually cleaned up Anil Mandal with a straight one into middle and off after a belaboured 4 from 33 balls.
Gyendra Malla weathered the early storm however, and as the shine wore off the ball Malla began to accelerate, helped by some increasingly wayward bowling. Though Sarad Vesawkar fell at first introduction of spin, fencing Roelof van der Merwe to cover, Malla and Khadka began to accelerate, adding a brisk 24 from 28 balls to take the visitors to 65-3.
Malla would eventually pop a leading edge to midwicket off Paul van Meekeren, but Khadka would kick on, riding his luck after being put down at slip off Michael Rippon's first ball to put on a century partnership with Sagar Pun.
Khadka would eventually hole out off Ahsan Malik in the 44th over having made a 94-ball 84, and Pun would follow three overs later in similar fashion, picking out van der Merwe at long on off Michael Rippon with the score on 190 and 23 balls remaining. Some rather amateurish fielding allowed the visitors to add another 27 runs at the death despite four more wickets falling, with no less than four high catches being dropped in the last three overs.
The target of 217 looked a shade under par on what was a slow but true surface, albeit one that was taking spin, but Nepal's decision to play four spinners was to be vindicated even as the Dutch risking an extended tail was made to look rather hubristsic. With Ben Cooper and Mudassar Bukhari benched the hosts didn't bat as deep as in the previous match, and this time they would need the tail to wag.
Khadka and Sompal Kami would put them immediately on the back foot, with the opening ten overs yielding just 38 runs at the cost of the wickets of Stephan Myburgh, Miachael Rippong and Wesley Barresi.
Max O'Dowd and van der Merwe set out to rebuild, van der Merwe dominating the scoring in a 127-ball 82 run partnership, but a disciplined effort in the field from Nepal ensured they were never able to really wrest the momentum back for the hosts. Van der Merwe's wicket would put the visitors back in control, young legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane bowling him round his legs on the sweep for 56 just after the Dutch had reached triple figures.
O'Dowd had never found any real fluency and by the time he departed for a 95-ball 35, perhaps a tad unfortunate to be given out stumped off a wide from Shakti Gauchan, the required rate had climbed to a run-a-ball. Seelaar followed him the following over, sweeping Pun to Gauchan at square leg, leaving Tim Gruijters and Timm van der Gugten as the last recognised batsmen still needing 78 from 12 overs.
The pair kept just about in touch with the rate for nine overs, adding 53 in 56, but when the demands of the scoreboard together with Basant Regmi finally got the better of Gruiters, bowled for 44 looking to go big and straight, the game was as good as over. Regmi had van Meekeren stumped four balls later, van der Gugten fell to Kami two balls after that. Last pair Malik and Kingma lasted just one ball, a suitably farsical run-out bringing the end to the Dutch, with Nepal taking a well earned two points from their 19 run win.
Nepal thus become the first team to beat the Dutch in this World Cricket League Championship, edging closer to the top four finish they need. For the Netherlands, their place at the top of the table is no longer secure, as Hong Kong have the chance to pass them when they play their two matches against Kenya in this round.