Sushil Nadkarni delivered in a big way for USA, scoring 57 not out in a match-winning performance to lift USA past Nepal by five wickets on Friday at the Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground in Kirtipur, just outside of Kathamandu, Nepal on day five of the ICC World Cricket League Division Five tournament. USA's chase was interrupted after the 32nd over in controversial circumstances as a riot broke out in the hill stand when USA needed 13 runs to win.
Pic (Right): Nadkarni smashed 57 not out. [Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia/USACA]
In front of a crowd of about 1000 fans at the start, which would grow to over 12,000 by the start of the second innings, Nepal won the toss and elected to bat first on another good batting track. However USA’s pace attack was too much for Nepal’s young lineup. Crucially, Usman Shuja was included in place of Sudesh Dhaniram, who was left out due to injury according to USA captain Steve Massiah.
“I was definitely on the boundary for quite some time and the crowd was really loud,” said Aditya Thyagarajan, who hit the winning runs for USA. “It was I think it was a great experience to play in that crowd and to see the passion of the Nepalis. They were really loud, but I think what really happened is that it motivated everybody else to go out there and give your best. I think this game, we played really motivated and we were on the ball. From the first ball, we all were right there and I think the crowd played a part in it.”
Shuja teamed up with Kevin Darlington to blitz the Nepal top order. Darlington continued his excellent form as he took three more wickets to remain USA’s leading wicket-taker in Nepal with 14 in five games. Dipendra Chaudhary was the first to go, trapped on the crease by Darlington for 7 to make it 14/1 in the 5th over. Shuja then struck five balls later, clean bowling Anil Mandal with a full and straight delivery for 4 before Darlington came back in the next over to knock Shakti Gauchan’s off stump out of the ground for a duck to make it 16 for 3.
“It was great to bowl with Usman today,” said Darlington. “Actually, Usman is my roommate. So we had a chat about this last night, basically going over our strategies after our team meetings. So we basically tried to hit the deck really hard today, try to hit the top of off stump, make it kind of difficult for the Nepalis today.”
Shuja should have had another wicket when Nepal’s captain and leading run-scorer in the tournament, Paras Khadka, edged one to first slip a short time later on 6, but was put down by Lennox Cush. However, it wound up not costing USA much as Khadka dragged a pull onto his stumps to be bowled for 12 by Orlando Baker as Nepal sunk to 39 for 4 in the 17th over. Baker then accounted for Nepal’s other danger man Sharad Vesawkar, dismissing him for 15 caught behind by Carl Wright.
Tight bowling by the USA pacemen combined with aggressive field settings by Massiah heaped more pressure on Nepal. A runout was the result when Mahesh Chhetri was indecisive on a single and couldn’t beat Rashard Marshall’s throw to the bowler, Saurabh Verma, over the stumps and when the bails came off, Chhetri had to go for 3 to make it 80 for 6 in the 32nd.
Nepal staged a solid fightback with Gyanendra Malla and Mahaboob Alam putting on a 64-run partnership for the 7th wicket. While Malla grinded out his runs, Alam had a more adventurous stay at the crease, swinging with reckless abandon and offering several edges that always fell safely out of reach from the fielders.
Nepal could have scored even more runs had they not made a crucial tactical blunder. Malla and Alam had each got their eyes in and were well set by the 40th over, but opted not to use the batting power play until the last five overs of the innings. This backfired spectacularly on them in the 45th over when Alam was run out for 38 by Wright darting out from behind the stumps to field a ball hit by Malla in front of point and fired a direct hit at his own end. Four balls later, Cush speared one full on the stumps to hit Malla in front and he was gone LBW for 52 to make it 143 for 8.
Instead of making a charge with two set batsmen, the power play was wasted on two tailenders fresh at the crease. Darlington came on again and gave away only seven runs in three overs of the power play to go along with the wicket of Basanta Regmi for 12. As a team, Nepal only managed 19 runs from the final five overs, even with fielding restrictions, and as a result only finished with 162 for 9 in their 50.
Pic (Left): Riot police were brought in after crowd turned violent! [Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia/USACA]
USA came out and made a decent start in the first few overs with Wright and Baker opening before Baker was given out caught behind for 7, gloving a short ball outside off to the keeper Chhetri off the left arm pace of Alam. Massiah then came out and consolidated with Wright as the two inched their way towards the target. Wright was uncharacteristically defensive and finally was out for 14 in the 14th over, LBW to left arm spinner Gauchan, to make it 43 for 2.
At around the same time Singapore was racing to their target of 193 against Jersey and met it in only 26 overs to boost their net run rate dramatically to +1.347. If USA reached their target of 163 in 37.4 overs or less, both they and Singapore would move on to Division Four in Italy this August and Nepal would be stuck in Division Five.
Nadkarni came out and at first struggled to middle the ball. Massiah took the reins and looked to up the ante with a couple of sixes over the bowler’s head. After eight dots in his first nine balls, Nadkarni started to become slightly more comfortable looking for singles to get Massiah back on strike. The two put on 45 runs when Massiah tried for another six against off spin bowler Sanjam Regmi but was well caught for 42 at long on by the sub fielder Amrit Bhatterai. Marshall got out four balls later to Basanta Regmi for a duck and the double-strike balanced the scales to make it 88 for 4 in 25.
Cush came out and as he has all tournament long in Nepal, tried to hit runs quickly. But after a two half-centuries to start the series, got out cheaply again, chopping a short ball from left arm spinner Rahul Vishvakarma onto his stumps for 9 to make it 112 for 5 in the 29th over.
Thyagarajan then came to the crease in yet another pressure situation. Yet again, he came through for USA and teamed up with Nadkarni to get USA over the line. However, the two men accomplished it the midst of frightening scenes.
The crowd had been unruly for much of the afternoon. During the lunch break, several USA players mentioned feeling uncomfortable fielding on the boundary and one player reported having a rock thrown in his direction. Fights and disturbances had been happening in the crowd on and off throughout the second innings depending on the fortunes of the home team.
The 32nd over started with the score on 131 for 5 with Basanta Regmi on to bowl. After two dot balls, Thyagarajan belted a six over extra cover and then notched a single to get Nadkarni on strike, who was on 43. Nadkarni belted back-to-back sixes over midwicket to bring up his 50 and take the score to 150 and help cement his eventual status as Man of the Match.
“Frankly speaking, I’m actually coming back after six months,” said Nadkarni. “I had a major injury and I was out of cricket period for six months so for me to come back, I was at a point where I’m probably 90-95% really feeling good. The initial two games, I didn’t get going so the confidence levels were low. Going into today’s game against spinners, the one thing I did back myself was that if I can get in and really get my eyesight and my rhythm going, then I should have no problems against these spinners because I back myself. I’m a natural player of spin bowling so that really helped.”
The crowd then became violent at the conclusion of the over, throwing rocks as well as bottles and other objects over the fences and onto the field. Nadkarni and Thyagarajan recognized there might be a delay and initially only asked for drinks to be brought out to them. However, the situation deteriorated rapidly and moments later, both men were rushing off the field into the USA locker room. Nepal’s players soon followed as riot police, who had been stationed on the boundary throughout the match, finally went into action. Within minutes, more than half the crowd fled out of the ground. The field was flooded with rocks and large stones. Wheelbarrows were brought out by the ground staff to help carry the mess away.
“The crowd was brilliant up until the 18 runs,” said Massiah. “It happens. They’re emotional, they love their cricket. I guess it was just disappointing to see a Nepal loss.”
After a 45-minute delay, play resumed with the Duckworth-Lewis formula coming into effect. Four overs were taken off the innings which had a massive effect on the final standings. The target was reduced from 163 to 157 as well. If USA scored seven runs in seven balls, USA and Singapore would advance. If it took slightly longer, USA would move on with Nepal. In the end, Thyagarajan hit a four to finish the match nine balls after play resumed. Had the match not been stopped, USA would have had to score 13 runs in 34 balls out of the 18 overs remaining for Singapore to finish second. Instead, Nepal finished as the second place team with a net run rate of +1.351, just four thousandths of a point better than Singapore.
The celebrations for USA were marred as well when more stones and rocks were thrown from behind the pavilion onto the field as Nadkarni and Thyagarajan were about to come off to be greeted by their teammates. USA’s squad was rushed back into the locker room again while the two batsmen, along with Nepal’s entire team in the field, were forced to wait out in the middle until it was safe enough to sprint for the locker rooms.
USA will return to the same field against the same team for the right to be called WCL Division Five tournament champions on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in Nepal, Friday night at 10:15 p.m. EST in America. Live coverage will once again be available on Dreamcricket.com.
ICC WCL Division Five
Nepal vs. USA
USA won by five wickets (D/L Method)
Nepal won the toss and elected to bat
Man of the Match: Sushil Nadkarni
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
D Chaudhary 7 17 0 0 LBW Darlington
AK Mandal 4 14 1 0 b Shuja
SP Gauchan 0 6 0 0 b Darlington
P Khadka* 12 45 1 0 b Baker
S Vesawkar 15 39 2 0 ct Wright+ b Baker
G Malla 52 81 5 0 LBW Cush
MK Chhetri+ 3 21 0 0 runout (Marshall/Verma)
M Alam 38 44 2 1 runout (Wright+)
B Regmi 12 17 1 0 b Darlington
S Regmi 4 14 0 0 not out
RVishvakarma 1 2 0 0 not out
Total Extras 14 (0 no balls, 2 byes, 2 leg byes, 10 wides)
Team Total 162 for 9 in 50 overs
Fall of wicket: 14/1 (Chaudhary), 14/2 (Mandal), 16/3 (Gauchan), 39/4 (Khadka),
53/5 (Vesawkar), 80/6 (Chhetri), 142/7 (Alam), 143/8 (Malla), 161/9 (S Regmi).
USA Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
KG Darlington 10-4-23-3
KU Shuja 8-1-19-1
TP Allen 10-1-17-0
OM Baker 6-1-20-2
S Verma 8-0-44-0
LJ Cush 8-0-35-1
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
CD Wright+ 14 44 1 0 LBW Gauchan
OM Baker 7 5 1 0 ct Chhetri+ b Alam
SJ Massiah* 42 58 3 2 ct sub (Bhatterai) b S Regmi
SS Nadkarni 57 59 3 4 not out
RA Marshall 0 4 0 0 ct Gauchan b B Regmi
LJ Cush 9 15 1 0 b Vishvakarma
A Thyagarajan 18 16 1 1 not out
Total Extras 12 (0 no balls, 1 bye, 4 leg byes, 7 wides)
Team Total 159 for 5 in 33.3 overs (Target 157 in 46 overs for D/L Method)
Nepal Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
M Alam 2-0-12-1
P Khadka 6-0-23-0
B Regmi 9-3-33-1
S Gauchan 6-0-18-1
R Vishvakarma 5-0-25-1
S Regmi 5.3-0-43-1