By Naushad Amit in Nepal
Dipendra Airee of Nepal and Sammu Ashan of Sri Lanka Under-23s, hit identical knocks of 72 not out for their respective teams, but it was the knock from the much experienced from the Test playing nation that helped the visitors record a close 6-wicket win in the Men’s South Asian Games Cricket Competition, played at the Tribuvan University ground in Kathmandu yesterday (03).
Electing to field, skipper Charith Asalanka may have had second thoughts of his decision to let Nepal bat first until the arrival of Dipendra Airee. Airee walked into the crease when Nepal were down by two wickets for 33 runs in the fifth over, but he made Sri Lanka payback to their call, by hitting an unbeaten knock of 72 runs off 44 deliveries, which included four boundaries and three sixes.
Airee took charge of one end and made others contribute to Nepal’s total of 172 for the loss of 5 wickets, an impressive total against a side with more exposure.
Airee saw opener Gyanendra Mall (21), Binod Bhandari (21) and allrounder Pawan Sarraf (22) chip in with useful knocks. Malla’s 20-ball 21 had two boundaries, while Bhandari’s 21 came off 23 deliveries inclusive of a boundary. But the knock Sarraf was the one that helped Airee step up on the gas, which
helped Nepal reach an impressive total of 172-5 in 20 overs. Sarraf smashed 22 off just 13 balls inclusive of two fours and a six.
Kamindu Mendis picked up two scalps conceding 34 runs, while pacemen Asitha Fernando, Kavishka Anjula and spinner Duvindu Tillakaratne claimed a wicket each.
Sri Lanka took a firing start in their run-chase when openers Pathum Nissanka and Nishan Madushka put up 36 runs for the first wicket in just three overs. Nissanka smashed 30 runs in just 12 deliveries, inclusive of three fours and two sixes. Madushka’s knock of 46 came off 42 balls had five boundaries and
a six, and Sri Lanka soon were on the back foot after losing two quick wickets of Kamindu Mendis and skipper Asalanka.
While others fell victim to Nepali bowlers Madushka was holding on to one end, and finally found a perfect partner in Sammu Ashan, who hammered 72 not out off just 44 deliveries to see Sri Lanka through the victory post, with five deliveries to spare. Ashan’s knock had four boundaries and five sixes, and made him the ideal choice for the Player of the Match award. Allrounder Sarraf picked two wickets for Nepal.
Sri Lanka will meet Bhutan today in their second game of the SAG Cricket Competition, before taking on Maldives and Bangladesh in the following two days.
Nepal 172 for 5 wickets (50) (Gyanendra Malla 21, Aarif Sheikh 19, Dipendra Airee 72 not out, Binod Bhandari 21, Pawan Sarraf 22, Kamindu Mendis 2/34)
Sri Lanka U-23 179 for 4 wickets (Pathum Nissanka 30, Nishan Madushka 46, Sammu Ashan 72 not out, Ashen Bandara 14 not out, Pawan Sarraf 2/20)