United Arab Emirates 153 for 6 (Shaiman 59, Regmi 2-23, Lamichhane 2-25) beat Nepal 132 for 7 (Jora 53*, Zahoor 2-17, Naveed 2-19) by 21 runs
After suffering back-to-back defeats to lose the ODI series 2-1, UAE bounced back following a two-day rest to take an early lead in their three-match T20I series at ICC Academy thanks to an impressive effort by their pace unit spearheaded by stand-in captain Mohammad Naveed.
After setting the visitors a modest target of 155, Naveed pounced on the first ball of the chase getting Pradeep Airee to feather an edge behind. Naveed continued to beat the outside edge in a brisk opening spell, setting the tone for further inroads by the rest of UAE’s medium pacers.
After Gyanendra Malla edged behind an attempted cut off left-arm spinner Sultan Ahmed to end the fifth, Dipendra Singh Airee drove hard at Amir Hayat’s medium pacer and sent a thick edge to backward point well held by a diving Sultan. Zahoor Khan found some extra bounce against Paras Khadka in the eighth over and another edge looped up to Sultan at backward point to make it 48 for 4.
With Shaiman Anwar still in place at slip in the 10th over, Zahoor capitalized on Rohit Paudel’s ill-advised attempt to run a single to third man as Shaiman snaffled a catch for Zahoor’s second wicket to make it 56 for 5. From there, Nepal struggled to stay in the hunt as the required run rate soon rose above ten per over.
Debutant Sundeep Jora did his best to bring the match down to the wire with an unbeaten 53 off 46 balls. In the process, he became the youngest player to score a T20I half-century at 17 years, 103 days.
Jora and Sompal Kami (27 off 19 balls) had dragged the equation down to 31 off the last two overs, both having been dropped in the previous two overs. However, legspinner Imran Haider and Naveed shut the door on Nepal with a near flawless pair of death overs, conceding just seven singles and a two over the final 12 balls as Kami’s innings ended with a skied slog over the pitch that was held by Naveed to start the final over.
UAE’s day had gotten off to an inauspicious start after being sent in to bat when Ashfaq Ahmed pulled Sandeep Lamichhane’s first ball in the second over straight to Basant Regmi at square leg. Ghulam Shabber then slapped a catch to Jora at extra cover off Kami in the fifth over to make it 19 for 2.
Shaiman got off the mark with a slashed four over the slips and should have been run-out two balls later for 4 but a throw from backward point was wide of the stumps after CP Rizwan sent Shaiman back. Nepal paid dearly for the miss as Shaiman reached 50 off 36 balls, crossing the half-century mark by flicking a full toss over square leg for 6. A 61-run fourth-wicket stand between Shaiman and Muhammad Usman proved to be the difference in the match.
The two sides face off again on Friday before the series finale on Sunday.