Two days after the Pakistan-India game was cancelled in Pallekele on Saturday, India’s first international cricket match against Nepal at the same site was also threatened by rain. But the rain wasn’t as bad on Monday, and it stopped around 9:30 p.m., lowering India’s goal to 145 in 23 overs. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill then had a 147-run opening partnership that didn’t end. This ruined Nepal’s party and put India in the Super Fours round. From this group, Pakistan has already moved on to the next round.
In the afternoon, though, Nepal’s fans had a lot to cheer about, especially when Aasif Sheikh scored a strong fifty. Kushal Bhurtel’s smooth strokeplay in the powerplay and Sompal Kami’s powerful hits in the slog overs set the tone for Aasif’s innings. When Aasif got to 50 after 88 balls in the 28th over, the Nepalese fans in the stands started dancing. The Nepali songs that were played at the ground added to the fun, and Rohit Paudel’s team ended up scoring 230 runs on a pitch with two speeds.
It didn’t last long, though, because after a long rain break, the Rohit fired the first shot. He hit a 39-ball half-century by scooping, slog-sweeping, and reverse-sweeping. Gill had hit Kami for three fours in one over before the rain break, but after it stopped, he mostly followed Rohit. When Gill reached his own fifty, India was only 29 runs away from winning. Rohit and Gill finished it in 17 balls, with 10 wickets left.
India wasn’t as strong in the first few matches. Three catches were lost by Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli, and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan in the first five overs. This made it easier for Nepal’s players to get on base.
Nepal’s openers were more comfortable against fast bowling. They drove slowly in the ‘V’ and ramped boldly in the ‘V’ behind the wicket. Bhurtel, who was given a second chance twice, hurt India with his plans and intentions to attack. When he hit Mohammed Siraj over square leg and out of the ground, it was probably the best shot of the day. Siraj kept putting the ball on the ground and letting runs slip away.
Shardul Thakur, an all-rounder, got India off to a good start in the last over of the powerplay, but he wasn’t very good in his short shift of four overs.
Aasif showed tenacity, which Nepal’s hitters didn’t have when they played their first Asia Cup game against Pakistan in Multan. Siraj then went back into the field and used the old ball to get rid of Aasif after he had scored 58 runs off 97 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who both spin with their left arms, worked together to help India take control. With his turn and lack of it, Jadeja made it hard for the other team to get away, taking 3 for 40 in his ten overs. Nepal didn’t get a boundary off of Jadeja until his eighth over. Kuldeep didn’t take any wickets on Monday, but with his stock ball and wrong’un on a good field, he was almost as economical as Jadeja.
Then, Dipendra Singh Airee and Kami showed that they could also compete with India’s best players. Kami, in particular, set up the short balls from Siraj and Hardik Pandya during his 48 off 56 balls, and Airee added 29 off 25 balls.
Mohammed Shami played his first ODI since March on Monday, when Bumrah was sick and couldn’t play. Together with Siraj, they bowled Nepal out for 230 in 48.2 overs.
Nepal’s attack was then stopped in its tracks by Gill’s peace and Rohit’s storm.