Tailender Karan KC put in a memorable show with the bat as Nepal snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat to stun Canada by one wicket in yet another nail-biting finish of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Windhoek, Namibia on Wednesday.
Chasing a target of 195 runs, Nepal were virtually out of the contest after being reduced to 144-9 in 42.1 overs. But KC, together with the last batsman Sandeep Lamichhane, shared an unbroken 51-run partnership for the fourth wicket to take Nepal home. KC smashed four sixes and three fours in his 31-ball 42. Nepal needed eight runs off the final over and after four dot balls in a row, KC hammered Cecil Pervez for a six to leave two to get from one.
After Pervez bowled a wide, KC scampered for a single in the final ball to ignite wild celebrations in the Nepali camp. It was Nepal’s third last-ball finish after beating Kenya and Namibia in the earlier matches. Nepal bounced back from a loss to Oman in their third game of the tournament to beat the UAE by four wickets.
The win puts Nepal into an all-important ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe next month where more opportunities in global cricket lie in wait for them. Nepal will now join one-time cricketing giants West Indies, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the 10-team World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for March 4-25. Nepal and the UAE will play the final on Thursday with the winners joining the West Indies, Ireland, the Netherlands and Papua Guinea in Group ‘A’. The Group ‘B’ features Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Hong Kong. The two finalists from the Qualifiers will make it to the 2019 World Cup in England.
The Qualifiers now offer Nepal with a chance of becoming the One-Day International team as the three highly-ranked non-Test playing teams in Zimbabwe will get promoted to the ODI status. The Qualifiers also open opportunities for Nepal to play the four-day Intercontinental Cup that features the elites of Associate cricket.
This is the second time that Nepal have made it to the World Cup Qualifiers after the 2014 edition in New Zealand. A trip to Zimbabwe will also give Nepal an opportunity to make amends to their disastrous performance three years ago when the team had finished second from bottom in the 10-team event.