Rohit Paudel leads from front as Nepal clinch ODI status after UAE collapse in Kathmandu

National team thrashed in Cricket World Cup League 2 after posting their lowest ever ODI total

Rohit Paudel hit 77 off 112 balls for Nepal. Subas Humagain for The National
Powered by automated translation

On one side of the thin dividing wall between the dressing rooms it was a carnival. On the other, a wake.

Nepal assured themselves of continued one-day international status with another crushing win, as they destroyed UAE in Kathmandu.

They have now taken nine wins from their past 10 games in Cricket World Cup League 2. Two more in their remaining games this week – against PNG on Monday and UAE again on Thursday – will see them power automatically into the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.

Their guests, by contrast, will be left to play for their futures at the Qualifier Play-off in Namibia later this month. It will be between UAE, PNG, Canada and Jersey to decide who gets all the perks of ODI status – chiefly, regular cricket in the form of participation in League 2, as well as a significant tranche of funding.

The fact UAE might not yet have reached their nadir does not bear thinking about. This horror show in Kathmandu certainly felt like it. All out for 71. A 177-run loss. It was woeful.

Nepal are the best-supported side beyond the Test-playing elite by quite some margin. Given the high stakes for this fixture, as well as the fact these two teams have long had a fierce rivalry, it was no surprise the Tribhuvan University ground was swamped.

Hundreds were inside the gates when the toss was made an hour before the start. A steady flow thereafter meant the attendance ballooned into the thousands.

Nepal v UAE - in pictures

Initially, they were silenced by a bright start from the tourists. Starting out with slow left-arm spin from both ends, UAE reduced the hosts to 22 for three.

The crowd was then whipped into a frenzy as Rohan Mustafa, the UAE all-rounder, all but squared up to Rohit Paudel after an appeal against the Nepal captain was rebuffed.

It was the second time in two matches in recent days Mustafa has had an on-field altercation with a Nepal player, having done similar with Sandeep Lamichhane in Dubai last week.

Muhammad Waseem, the UAE captain, had to mediate, putting an arm around his opposite number and leading him away from the incident.

Rather than distract Paudel, it stoked his fire – as well as that of the crowd. As the atmosphere became increasingly febrile beyond the barbed wire fence marking the perimeter of the playing area, Paudel set about repairing the damage his side had sustained in the early blows.

He did so in sparkling fashion. By the time Paudel was finally prised from the crease he had made 77 and taken his side to 162-5.

It had given the home team a platform, and they did not waste it. Aarif Sheikh, Gulsan Jha and Dipendra Singh Airee all played enterprising cameos as Nepal reached 248 before being bowled out in the final over.

Aayan Khan, Zawar Farid, Mustafa and Zahoor Khan each took two wickets – of which the latter was the pick of the bowlers for the national team.

The break between innings may have allowed tempers to cool among the players, but the mood beyond the playing area remained fevered.

At the start of the intermission a crowd surged the main gate on the high side of the ground. Around a hundred fans made it inside before armed police with sticks and riot shields restored order.

Those who made it inside the gates were there for a very good time – if not a long one. UAE’s reply lasted less than 23 overs, a capitulation which would have been startling had it not been such a regular occurrence in recent times.

Lalit Rajbanshi profited the most from the listless batting, claiming five wickets as UAE were shot out for their lowest ever ODI score.

Updated: March 12, 2023, 10:47 AM