By Peter Della Penna
In a rematch of Friday's showdown at Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground, Nepal exacted revenge on USA as the host team won Saturday's World Cricket League Division Five championship match by five wickets in Kathmandu, Nepal. Rahul Vishvakarma was named Man of the Match after turning in a stunning performance with the ball, taking 7 for 15 bowling left arm orthodox spin.
Pic to the left: Rahul Vishvakarma pics up his Man of the Match award after taking 7 for 15. Courtesy Daniela Zaharia/USACA.
"We would have loved to win this today, but full credit to Nepal," said USA captain Steve Massiah. "I thought they took the game away from us. 150 for 3 and then Rahul came in and got seven wickets. They deserve it."
USA won the toss and elected to bat first on a cool morning. For the third game in a row, USA used a different opening combination as Orlando Baker came out to bat with Lennox Cush. Cush tried to be his usual aggressive self and struck a six over point off his second ball to get off the mark but was out for 10 after only 11 balls and USA was 19 for 1 in the 4th over.
Steve Massiah came in and continued his solid form by constructing a methodical partnership with Baker. The two kept the Nepal pacemen at bay as they added 81 runs for the second wicket. Baker was starting to look stronger as his innings went on, but was run out for 49 on a piece of lazy cricket. Massiah was on strike facing Vishvakarma in the 27th over and slogged a full ball wide of long on. He didn't run thinking it was going for four. Gyanendra Malla chased after it hard and swatted it back inside the rope when Massiah and Baker decided to get moving. Off the bat, it should have been a comfortable two, but because neither man started running hard at first, Baker came back for what become a very risky second. Malla scooped up the ball after knocking it down, fired an accurate throw from the boundary to Vishvakarma over the stumps and the bails came off with Baker well short.
However, Massiah did well to shake off the blunder and steeled himself for another long stay at the crease. Sushil Nadkarni came out and joined him to put on 41 runs for the third wicket before he was out stumped for 17 trying to slog off-spinner Sanjam Regmi to make it 141 for 3 in 36 overs.
With the batting power play still in hand and Massiah well set, it appeared USA would motor on to score between 220 and 240. Massiah brought up his 50 with an impressive six over midwicket off left arm spinner Shakti Gauchan in the 39th over. In the next over though, USA would have no answer for Vishvakarma's plan to bowl over the wicket. Previously, the spinner had bowled only around the wicket, but after the first ball of the 40th over, decided to change his angle and it paid immediate dividends. Massiah tried to slog him and top edged one high over the keeper's head to Gauchan who made a great catch diving forward running in from short third man to send Massiah on his way for 55 as USA had fallen to 152 for 4.
Pic above: Lennox Cush bowls to Anil Mandal with Rashard Marshall (left) and Orlando Baker (right) fielding close in as the crowd looks on. Courtesy Daniela Zaharia/USACA.
From there, things unraveled for USA at an alarming rate. Aditya Thyagarajan was out two balls later edging a drive to the captain Paras Khadka at point for 4. Carl Wright and Timroy Allen fell in identical fashion, driving him in the air to be well caught on the long off boundary by Mahaboob Alam. Usman Shuja's foot dragged slightly out of his crease going for a slog to be stumped while Rashard Marshall and Imran Awan got out when they top edged attempted slogs. USA's last 7 wickets fell for 20 runs. In Vishvakarma's second spell of bowling, he bowled 5.2 overs, had 2 maidens and took 7 wickets for 3 runs as he just about singlehandedly bowled out USA for 172 in 47.2 overs.
The crowd in excess of 10,000 had even more reason to cheer when Mahesh Chhetri and Anil Mandal got Nepal off to a strong start, putting on 85 for the first wicket before Mandal slammed one to midwicket facing the off-spin of Allen and was caught on the boundary by Shuja for 37. Cush then had Chhetri caught behind for 28 to make it 88 for 2 in 24 and followed it up by nabbing the captain Khadka for 5 to make it 104 for 3 in the 30th.
USA tried to keep making breakthroughs, but more terrible fielding, a chronic problem on tour, held them back as dropped chances, misfields and overthrows gave Nepal room to breathe. The pressure was relieved and Nepal managed to get closer and closer until they had passed the target with 19 balls to spare. Usman Shuja took two wickets to try and give USA a chance, but Malla and Alam put the pressure straight back on USA's bowlers with an aggressive 35-run partnership to end the match. Malla, who is only 19-years-old, finished 28 not out a day after top-scoring with 52 against USA while Alam was unbeaten on 17. The crowd erupted when the winning four was hit by Alam as Malla immediately grabbed a souvenir stump out of the ground.
While USA finished in second place as a team, they had some impressive individual distinctions. Massiah finished as the tournament's leading run scorer with 289 runs in six games. He had the most 50s in the tournament with four, including a high score of 74 against Fiji. Kevin Darlington was the leading wicket-taker in the event with 14 in six games. His best return was 4 for 65 versus Singapore.
ICC WCL Division Five
Nepal vs. USA
Nepal won by 5 wickets
USA won the toss and elected to bat
Man of the Match: Rahul Vishvakarma
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
OM Baker 49 105 3 2 runout (Malla/Vishvakarma)
LJ Cush 10 11 1 1 b Das
SJ Massiah* 55 114 4 1 ct Gauchan b Vishvakarma
SS Nadkarni 17 29 2 1 st Chhetri+ b S Regmi
A Thyagarajan 4 12 1 0 ct Khadka b Vishvakarma
CD Wright+ 1 2 0 0 ct Alam b Vishvakarma
RA Marshall 4 9 1 0 ct B Regmi b Vishvakarma
TP Allen 2 12 0 0 ct Alam b Vishvakarma
KU Shuja 3 9 0 0 st Chhetri+ b Vishvakarma
I Awan 7 8 0 1 ct Gauchan b Vishvakarma
KG Darlington 0 6 0 0 not out
Total Extras 20 (0 no balls, 0 byes, 7 leg byes, 13 wides)
Team Total 172 all out in 47.2 overs
Fall of wicket: 19/1 (Cush), 100/2 (Baker), 141/3 (Nadkarni), 152/4 (Massiah),
152/5 (Thyagarajan), 157/6 (Wright), 158/7 (Marshall), 162/8 (Allen),
164/9 (Shuja), 172/10 (Awan).
Nepal Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
M Alam 3-0-16-0
BK Das 7-1-27-1
P Khadka 5-0-19-0
SP Gauchan 9-1-31-1
B Regmi 9-0-37-0
RK Vishvakarma 8.2-2-15-7
S Regmi 6-1-20-1
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
MK Chhetri+ 28 73 3 0 ct Wright+ b Cush
AK Mandal 37 66 5 1 ct Shuja b Allen
SP Gauchan 23 58 0 0 LBW Shuja
P Khadka* 5 9 1 0 ct Marshall b Cush
S Vesawkar 11 26 0 0 ct Wright+ b Shuja
G Malla 28 31 3 0 not out
M Alam 17 18 1 1 not out
Total Extras 26 (0 no balls, 2 byes, 4 leg byes, 20 wides)
Team Total 175 for 5 in 46.5 overs
Did not bat: B Regmi, S Regmi, RK Vishvakarma, BK Das
Fall of wicket: 85/1 (Mandal), 88/2 (Chhetri), 104/3 (Khadka), 127/4 (Vesawkar),
USA Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
KG Darlington 8-3-25-0
KU Shuja 10-0-46-2
I Awan 2-0-13-0
LJ Cush 10-1-27-2
TP Allen 10-0-26-1