Karan KC the hero as Nepal pull of final over heist
The match wasn't on TV, it wasn't live streamed and precious few people were even there to watch it, but Nepal today pulled off what will likely go down as one of the greatest comebacks in cricket history.
The day started with skipper Paras Khadka putting Canada in to bat after winning the toss, and Canada's Srimantha Wijeratne dominating their innings by batting throughout their 50 overs to finish unbeaten on 103 in their total of 194-8.
Nepal's previous highest total in the tournament was 178 against Kenya on Monday, and that took the full 50 overs, so they were likely considered underdogs, especially when Cecil Pervez dismissed Paras Khadka from his first ball.
A knock of 42 from Dilip Nath helped Nepal put on 50 for the third wicket, but his dismissal saw them lose three wickets for nine runs in three overs to put them on the back foot at 81-5. Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Kumar put on 46 for the sixth wicket, but when Kumar fell in the 38th over they'd only scored 127 and were falling well behind the required rate.
Sheikh and Sompal Kami added another 15 before three wickets in nine balls left them reeling on 144-9 and the Canadian administrators likely preparing for a trip to Zimbabwe.
But Karan KC had other ideas.
Ably assisted by number 11 Sandeep Lamichhane at the other end, the number 10 batsman played the innings of his life. He chipped away at the total and got them needing 32 from the final four overs. Two runs from the 47th meant that Canada were on top, but a six from the fourth ball of the 48th over helped Nepal take nine runs from that over and leave them needing 21 from 12 balls.
Satsimranjit Dhindsa bowled the penultimate over, and started well, going for just two runs from the first three balls. A six and a four, followed by a single, by Karan KC swung the game right back to Nepal though, and they needed eight from the last over, to be bowled by Cecil Pervez.
Pervez, knowing he was bowling for a place in the World Cup Qualifier, was cool, calm and collected for the first four balls, sending down four yorkers to start the over and leaving Nepal needing 8 from 2 balls and under immense pressure. But Karan KC released the valve by hitting a six over cover, leaving just two runs needed.
Pervez had lost his cool and sent down a leg-side wide to bring the scores level, and Karan KC took a single from the next ball to secure the one wicket win and send Nepal to Zimbabwe for the World Cup Qualifier. He'd scored 42 from 31 balls batting at number 10, and likely ensured that he'll have to wait a long time before he has to buy a drink anywhere in Nepal.
Photos and videos shared on social media in the aftermath showed people celebrating around computers following live scorecards and spontaneous celebrations in the streets of Kathmandu by the passionate Nepal fanbase. Just try telling them that nobody cares about associate cricket.