In a resounding display of cricketing prowess, India showcased their dominance as they trounced the minnows of the cricketing world, Nepal, by a commanding margin of 10 wickets in a rain-marred encounter. This splendid victory propelled India into the prestigious Super Four stage of the fiercely contested Asia Cup, a critical preparatory event for the impending One-Day International (ODI) World Cup to be hosted in India.
India’s quest for victory saw them tasked with a revised target of 145 runs within 23 overs, as per the meticulous Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, due to intermittent rain disruptions. With steely resolve and unwavering determination, the Indian duo of Skipper Rohit Sharma, anchoring the innings at an impressive 74 not out, and the prodigious talent of Shubman Gill, resolute at 67 not out, demonstrated their mettle. This unstoppable partnership ultimately guided India to a triumph, accomplishing the target with a remarkable 17 balls to spare on the hallowed grounds of Pallekele.
The opposition, Nepal, managed to accumulate a total of 230 runs before being bundled out, with Aasif Sheikh contributing significantly with a commendable score of 58.
This prestigious 50-over tournament, serving as a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming ODI World Cup, has been marred by inclement weather, leading organizers to contemplate relocating matches scheduled in Colombo.
India’s initial encounter with arch-rivals Pakistan was frustratingly abandoned after only one innings, setting the stage for a crucial showdown in their second outing. However, their promising start was thwarted by heavy rain, compelling players to take shelter, and the playing field to be meticulously protected.
Undeterred by adversity, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill emerged from the hiatus with unbridled determination. They unleashed a flurry of boundaries, notching their well-deserved half-centuries and propelling India towards victory. Rohit’s explosive innings, marked by five towering sixes in his 59-ball extravaganza, left an indelible mark on the match.
Nepal, a fledgling entrant in international cricket, having earned ODI status in 2018, exhibited commendable resilience. The early promise displayed by Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Bhurtel (38) set a strong foundation for their innings. Despite a middle-order stumble, the lower-order batsmen valiantly battled back into contention. Sompal Kami, batting at number eight, unleashed a blistering 48 runs, bringing their innings to a close at 48.2 overs.
The Indian bowling attack, led by spinner Ravindra Jadeja and fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, accounted for three wickets each, significantly denting Nepal’s aspirations.
The toss of the coin favored Rohit Sharma, who elected to field first. However, the Indian fielders endured a forgettable start, with Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli, and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan dropping three catches in the initial five overs. Bhurtel’s audacious hitting, including consecutive boundaries off fast bowler Shardul Thakur, electrified Nepal’s fervent fans at the sparsely populated stadium.
Despite Bhurtel’s fearless assault, his dismissal, caught behind, was a turning point. Mohammed Siraj’s dismissal of Aasif Sheikh after his fifty further exacerbated Nepal’s batting woes. Following a rain-induced pause, Dipendra Singh Airee (29) and Kami compiled a resilient 50-run partnership for the seventh wicket, adding to the frustration of the opposition bowlers.