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Friday, June 2, 2023

DLS drama and wasting time

Against the backdrop of the Kirtipur sunset, pitch invasions, wasted time and DLS controversy saw Nepal’s most dramatic victory at the UAE Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League 2nd place.

After Nepal secured a place in the Cricket World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe later this year, the scenes on the field showed the incredible excitement that had just occurred. At the end of the game, Nepal had six offsides left and the UAE were nine points behind on the DLS par total. Emirates captain Mohammad Wasim and head coach Robin Singh protested to the referee and match referee over the decision to end the game but their protests were in vain. The Nepalese team celebrated around them and won.

Nine runs in the DLS seemed like a near-easy victory. But just four rounds before, Nepal had been eyeing the knockout bucket. With just four wickets in hand and 85 runs to go, they were well behind the required ratio. Both of their batsmen, Bhim Sharki and Aarif Sheikh, were dismissed, both scoring half-centuries. The impossible seemed near impossible among the bowlers of Gulsan Jha and Dipendra Singh Airee.

But in the space of four balls, the face of the whole game changed. Jha throws Waseem’s gimme to the leg side for a 6. After he followed up with three fours, one of which dripped off a fielder’s leg into the long-range boundary sponge, prompting a disaffected rant from Andrew Leonard in the comments. Suddenly, the UAE is at a disadvantage. The record crowd at Tribhuvan University Stadium cheered relentlessly for his mistake.

UAE wasted time from the early stages of the game after determining they could keep Nepal below the DRS-required ratio. However, the game slowed down due to Nepal’s mid-level resistance. The final six rounds of pitching took forty minutes. This tactic could end up costing the UAE the game.

At the end of the 44th inning, the umpires gathered in the middle. Two quiet overs after Jha’s onslaught did nothing to hold Nepal back and they were still well over the total they needed. By then, the sun was almost setting and the weather was distinctly overcast. When referee Buddha Pradhan and referee Raveendra Wimalasiri walked away from their conversation to signal the players off, no one seemed sure what happened. Slowly, Waseem, the Nepali batsmen and the crowd finally understood their decision.

Players in light blue jerseys and yellow bibs rushed onto the field as each umpire took bail off the other’s stumps. The displeasure of the UAE fielders was palpable as the crowd cheered. Still, it took them just over four hours to deliver 44 overs – most operas lasted less – and Nepal still needed a run from 36 to 42 when the game was called off. If they manage to get these guys involved, the UAE might still have a favorable WinViz graphics.

Despite this, Nepal took two points from the game and beat Namibia by one point in the group. After winning 11 of their last 12 games, they will join Oman, Scotland, Netherlands and Zimbabwe in June’s World Cup qualifiers, with two spots still to be decided in the play-offs later this month.

The biggest injustice of the match, however, is that Asif Khan’s stunning centenary in seventh – the fourth fastest century in ODI history – would end in failure. The good news, however, is that he has secured a place for his name to be mentioned alongside the likes of AB de Villiers, Shahid Afridi and Brian Lara.

Special mention goes to Andrew Leonard, who spent every millisecond in the dramatic chase of ICC commentary duties. Leonard grew louder as he contended with the chants of the crowd as Nepal drew closer. Leonard professionally declared the final moments of the game: “Oh my God, they’re starting! … They’re sprinting and they know they’re ahead on the DLS. It’s extraordinary! Muhammad Waseem in protest , the crowd thought they were going to Zimbabwe!”

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