Kushal Bhurtel

Kushal Bhurtel all-round show inspires Nepal to victory

Opener Kushal Bhurtel put up an all-round performance for Nepal as they signed off the ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup, defeating United Arab Emirates (UAE) ‘A’ by three wickets in the dead rubber match at the P Sara Oval in Colombo on Wednesday.

Part-time spinner Bhurtel grabbed his career-best six wickets for Nepal as they bowled out the second-tier team of the UAE, who chose to bat first, for a paltry total of 157. The 22-year-old opener then slammed a quickfire 71 runs off 43 balls as Nepal made 159-7 in 23 overs.

Both Nepal and UAE ‘A’ had already crashed out of the race in the semi-final before coming into the game following defeats against India ‘A’ and Pakistan ‘A’ in their first two games of Group ‘B, which only sent the top two sides into the semi-finals. While Nepal finished third in the group with two points from three matches, UAE ‘A’ bowed out pointless after as many games. The ‘A’ teams of India and Pakistan were already assured of top two finishes.

UAE opener Lovepreet Singh scored 52 runs off 82, the highest of the innings, as they lost other batters at regular intervals. He scored six hits to fences and a six before Bhurtel had him caught by Sundeep Jora as the fourth wicket in the 26th over.

Ethan D’Souza (18 runs off 25), Ashwant Valthapa (16 runs off 32), opener Aryansh Sharma (14 runs off 30), and Jash Giyanani (13 runs off 25) were other UAE batters to manage double-digit figures.

Leg spinner Bhurtel, who put up a sensational bowling performance, conceded 40 runs in his 10-over spell. Mousom Dhakal, marking his list ‘A’ debut, pocketed two wickets in his nine-over bowling, giving away 44 runs.

Chasing the target, Nepal lost opener Arjun Saud for a golden duck after Muhammamd Jawadullah trapped his leg before But his opening partner, Bhurtel, made light work of UAE bowlers, slamming nine hits to fences and four sixes. The player-of-the-match Bhurtel also shared a 98-run partnership for the second wicket with Dev Khanal before his dismissal as second wicket. He was caught by Fahad Nawaz off Mohammed Faraazuddin with 98 runs on board.

Khanal and Sundeep Jora were next best scorers for Nepal contributing equal 24 runs. Khanal shot four hits to the fences in his 38-ball knock, while Jora smashed a boundary and two sixes facing 15 deliveries. Gulsan Jha was another Nepali player to touch double-digit figures, scoring 11 runs off 18.

Pratish GC, who remained unbeaten on 8 runs, capped off the innings in style, scoring two back-to-back boundaries, including the winner facing three balls.

Mohammed Faraazuddin grabbed five wickets for UAE in his six-over spell, conceding 36 runs with a maiden over. Muhammad Jawadullah grabbed two wickets, conceding 40 runs in his six-over spell.


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