Two days after a rain-affected Pakistan-India game in Pallekele, a similar threat loomed over India’s first international cricket encounter with Nepal at the same venue. However, the rain subsided on Monday, setting India’s target at 145 runs in 23 overs. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill then dazzled with a remarkable 147-run opening partnership, securing India’s spot in the Super Fours round. Pakistan had already secured a place in the next stage from this group.
Nepal’s Promising Performance
Nepal’s fans had reasons to celebrate in the afternoon, especially when Aasif Sheikh notched up a solid half-century. Aasif’s innings featured fluid strokeplay from Kushal Bhurtel during the powerplay and Sompal Kami’s powerful blows in the slog overs. When Aasif reached his half-century in the 28th over, Nepali fans were in high spirits. The beats playing at the ground added to the festive atmosphere as Rohit Paudel’s team posted a competitive total of 230 on a two-paced pitch.
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill Shine
Nepal’s joy was short-lived as Rohit Sharma played aggressively after a rain delay. He achieved a half-century in just 39 balls, displaying an array of shots. Gill, who had previously hit three fours off Kami, continued to complement Rohit’s performance. By the time Gill reached his own fifty, India was just 29 runs away from victory. Rohit and Gill secured the win with 17 balls to spare and all ten wickets intact.
India’s Early Struggles
Nepal’s Batters Impress
Nepal’s batters showed comfort against pace, playing elegant shots in the ‘V’ and audacious ramps behind the wicket. Bhurtel, who survived two chances, punished India with his aggressive intent. He played an exceptional shot when he hooked Mohammed Siraj over square leg for a boundary.
India Seizes Control
All-rounder Shardul Thakur provided India with a breakthrough during the powerplay but struggled during his four-over spell. Aasif displayed resilience, which was missing in Nepal’s previous Asia Cup debut against Pakistan. Mohammed Siraj later returned to dismiss Aasif for 58 off 97 balls.
Spinners Take Charge
Left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav worked together to help India take control. Jadeja proved difficult to score against, ending with figures of 3 for 40 in ten overs. Kuldeep was economical despite not taking wickets, utilizing his stock and wrong’un effectively on a helpful pitch.
Nepal’s Fighting Spirit
Dipendra Singh Airee and Kami displayed their ability to challenge India’s star players. Kami, in particular, handled short deliveries from Siraj and Hardik Pandya well, scoring 48 off 56 balls, while Airee contributed 29 off 25 balls.
Shami and Siraj Close the Innings
Mohammed Shami, playing his first ODI since March due to Bumrah’s absence, combined with Siraj to dismiss Nepal for 230 in 48.2 overs.
Gill and Rohit Secure Victory
In the truncated chase, Shubman Gill’s composure and Rohit Sharma’s aggressive batting led India to a convincing victory over Nepal bowling attack.