Nepal defeats Gujarat by 8 wickets in SMS Friendship Cup opener

Kathmandu, Apr.1: Nepal has started its SMS Friendship Cup campaign with a win defeating Gujarat by eight wickets in the tournament’s opener at Sai Meghpan Sporrtslife (SMS) Cricket Ground in Vapi, Gujarat, on Sunday. 

Nepal is competing against two Ranji-playing teams – Gujarat and Baroda – in the tournament which is being played in a double round-robin format. Thus, each team will play twice against the other and the top two teams at the end will progress to the final on April 7.

Heading to India with a positive mindset after clean sweeping a two-match T20 series against Ireland Wolves, Nepal has continued its winning streak after restricting Gujarat to a paltry target and chasing it with ease.

Gujarat 98 all-out

Nepal’s captain Rohit Kumar Paudel decided to field first after winning the toss and the skipper utilised the decision to the team’s benefit.

Karan KC gave Nepal the first wicket after bowling out Aarya Desai, and then the wickets of Gujarat kept on falling.

Gulshan Jha went on to take a four-wicket haul by sending Umang Rohit Kumar (5 off 5), Smit Patel (10 off 8), Hemang Patel (20 off 23) and Rishi Patel (1 off 2) back to the pavilion. 

Umang scored the most runs for Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy (2023/24). He was ranked 21st among all the teams’ batsmen with 542 runs in seven innings. However, he could not perform against Nepal on Sunday.

While two batsmen – Rudra Patel (23 off 22) and Saral Prajapati (17 off 15) – got run out, Karan took two more wickets – Abhishek Desai (11 off 15) and Zala Yuvrajsin (5 off 10) – to bundle out Gujarat at 98 runs in 18.2 overs.

Slow and steady chase

Opener Kushal Bhurtel was trying to be aggressive from the start. He got two lifelines, first when he was dropped at 8 runs in the first ball of the third over. Secondly, the fielder was only some inches away from receiving the ball well and getting Kushal caught out in the final ball of the same over.

Kushal went on to score 17 runs before departing in the 16th delivery as the first wicket of Nepal. He was caught just outside the 30-yard box in the mid-on region while trying to go over the fielder in the spell of Hemang Patel.

Kushal was joined soon by Aasif Sheikh (16 off 16) as he got bowled by an inside edge in the spell of Tejas Patel.  

With two wickets falling in quick succession, Nepal was expected to be under pressure. The pressure restricted the two new batsmen, Anil Kumar Sah and Rohit Kumar Paudel, from scoring in boundaries regularly; however, the duo kept on stealing runs and building a good partnership with only few boundaries.

Facing 35 and 26 deliveries, Anil and Rohit added 32 and 33 runs respectively to chase the target of 99 runs in 15.2 overs.

While Gujarat faces Baroda in the tournament’s second match on Monday, Nepal will play Baroda on Tuesday.

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