Kushal Bhurtel and Rohit Paudel carry Nepal to World Cup qualifying success over USA

The post-Paras Khadka era looks bright after five-wicket win in World Cup League Two in Oman

Nepal's Sandeep Lamichhane celebrates taking the wicket of United States opener Sushant Modani
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No Paras Khadka? No problem for Nepal, as they started their first World Cup League Two series without their greatest talisman with a rousing win over United States in Oman.

Much has happened in the time since qualifying matches for the 50-over World Cup last took place. Most pertinently for Nepal, that has included the recent retirement of former captain Khadka.

To put his departure into context, the only previous times Nepal had chased scores in excess of 200 to win 50-over games, Khadka had scored centuries.

The young side he has left behind showed they have learnt much, though, as they chased 231 with uncharacteristic ease.

By the time victory was sealed, they had five wickets and six balls in hand. That represents a cruise by Nepal standards.

It is 19 months since this competition — which decides which sides advance to the global qualifier for the next World Cup - ceased because of the onset of the pandemic.

Even if the league table has been in stasis since, much has changed in that time — not least the venue where the competition is resuming.

The Oman Cricket Academy ground in Al Amerat, a suburb of Muscat at the foot of the Hajar mountains, will be playing host to T20 World Cup matches later this year.

The clock is ticking till the start of that event, meaning all hands are to the pump.

As such, the first two thirds of this ODI were played out to the sound of the click-clacking of workmen, and JCBs shovelling gravel.

Already, it has a different feel to the village-green ambience which used to pervade here. Gone are the trees which lined the oval.

At the Muscat end of the ground there is the shell of a new permanent structure, set to house hospitality and media when the World Cup comes to town.

Lining the perimeter where the trees used to be is a temporary stand which is set to hold nearly 700 people for the tournament.

Four more of a similar size are set to be added, ahead of matches which will feature Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the host nation.

For now, though, it is about 50-over cricket, and a tri-series which also involves Oman — who will face Nepal in the second match on Tuesday

Bizarrely, when United States’ batsmen made it to 36 that counted as a minor triumph. The previous time these sides had met in this competition — in the last series before Covid took hold — USA were bowled out for 35 in a mere 12 overs.

Their effort this time was vastly better, thanks chiefly to the fine century by Monank Patel which underpinned it.

The 28-year-old wicketkeeper reached three figures, then hit the 114th ball he faced straight to Kushal Bhurtel.

It was one of three fine catches for Bhurtel, and he also played a crucial hand in the chase, too.

He top scored with 84 at the top of the order, while 19-year-old Rohit Paudel saw his side through to the win, ending not out on 62 as victory was sealed.

Updated: September 14, 2021, 9:02 AM