Spinners helped the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) XI register an upset victory over the visiting Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Academy in the final of three one-day matches at the TU Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Brought in after the visitors hit 47 runs of first two overs while chasing lowly 136 for victory, the spinners did the trick for Nepal and the stand-in captain Paras Khadka walked away with praise for his experimental decisions that proved successful.
PBC Academy were bowled out for 121 in 28.3 overs with off-spinner Sanjam Regmi emerging the hero with the more than impressive figures of 8.3-4-6-5. Basant Regmi took three for 28 in 8 overs while Shakti Gauchan and Sarad Vesawkar each grabbed a wicket.
Ahmed Shahzad hit pacer Amrit Bhattarai for five fours in the first over while his partner Raheel Majeed hit four boundaries and a six off Dhirendra Chand in the second over that also included a bye four. With 47/0 after 12 balls, PCB looked like cruising to a quick victory before lunch but Paras brought in Shakti and Basant.
Shakti got Majeed (27 off 14 with five fours and a six) in the last over before lunch and Shahzad (32 off 25 with seven fours) holed out one off Basant to Sarad in the first over after lunch to make it 65/2. Six balls later, Basant claimed Khurram Manzoor (1) to make it 76/3 and it was splendid bowling of Sanjam then after.
The Pakistanis continued trying to be aggressive while Sanjam's turn along with innovative field placing by Paras checked runs. Captain Khalid Latif was trapped leg-before at 20 off 22 by Sanjam and he was the third and last man to score in double-digit.
The PCB Academy ended at 121 – 15 runs short of CAN XI's score after Sanjam got Sohail Khan (6) caught by Sarad and thousands of fans stormed into field to celebrate the amazing comeback victory.
Earlier, Paras won the toss and elected to bat first. Playing without regular captain Binod Das and star all-rounder Mehboob Alam, the Nepali team was pegged down right from second over when Gyanendra Malla was trapped by Mohamad Aamir.
Aamir, playing his first match on the tour, got five of first six wickets – Paresh Lohani (11) falling to Wahab Riaz to wreck the innings. Nepal went down to 45/6 in 12th over and it looked like it was heading for an embarrassing batting performance before Shakti Guachan rescued the team.
Shakti stayed cool and partnered Mahesh Regmi for 56 runs taking Nepal past three-digit before Mahesh, who was dropped down the order, fell to Imad Wasim, He scored 20 off 50 balls with a four.
Sanjam Regmi (5) and Amrit Bhattarai (6) stayed long enough to help Shakti complete a half-century, the lone by Nepali batsman in the series. Shakti's unbeaten 50 was scored in 109 balls with five fours and a six. Aamir was pick of the bowlers with 5/28 while Shahzad took 2/18 off his seven overs.