Photo: ICC

KATHMANDU, March 15: Nepal has earned a One Day International (ODI) status for the first time from the International Cricket Council (ICC) till 2022, after comfortably thrashing Papua New Guinea (PNG) by six wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier playoff on Thursday.

In the match played today at the Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nepal achieved the target of 115 runs given by PNG in 23 overs for the loss of four wickets.

Despite some nervy moments early in the innings with three of the top order falling for just 35 runs, a 73-run partnership between Dipendra Singh Airee and Aarif Sheikh propelled Nepal to a significant win against PNG, which helped them secure promotion to ODI status after the Netherlands beat Hong Kong by 44 runs in  Kwekwe. Had Hong Kong managed to beat the Netherlands today, Nepal would have to defeat Hong Kong in another match to earn the status.

Airee not out top scored 50 for Nepal. Opener batsman Gyanendra Malla scored a single run while Anil Shah (9) was adjudged lbw in Norman Vanua’s ball.

Captain Paras Khadka garnered 20 runs while Rohit Kumar Poudel contributed three runs for the team.

Earlier, Papua New Guinea, losing toss and sent to bat first, scored 114 runs in 27.2 overs.

Player of the Match, Airee (4/15) and Sandeep Lamichhane (4/29) were the pick of Nepal’s bowlers as the teenagers damaged the PNG batting claiming four wickets each. Charles Amini top scored for PNG with 19 runs.

Sompal Kami and Karan KC also picked one wicket each for Nepal.

The Netherlands has already granted ODI status after winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship 2017 last December.

PNG, who lost all four of their games in the tournament, has lost their ODI status along with Hong Kong. Both teams have now been demoted to WCL Division Two, but they do have one final chance to play an international match (at least until 2020) – the ninth-place play-off on Saturday.

Although Nepal, pitted in Group B, failed to get past the group stage to book a Super Sixes berth, following their loss against host Zimbabwe, Scotland and Afghanistan, earning ODI recognition for the first time in Nepal’s cricket history is a remarkable achievement.

Nepal had defeated Hong Kong in its last group stage match to stand at the fourth position of the Group Table. Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Scotland from Group B and Ireland, West Indies and the United Arab Emirates have reached the Super Sixes stage. The top two teams of the Super Sixes will book place for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

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