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India vs Nepal, Asia Cup 2023: India defeat brave Nepal to join Pakistan in Super Fours

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India defeated Nepal in a rain-truncated match in Pallekele on Monday to book a berth in the Super 4s of the 2023 Asia Cup and line-up another blockbuster clash against Pakistan

India defeated Nepal in a rain-truncated match in Pallekele on Monday to book a berth in the Super 4s of the 2023 Asia Cup and line-up another blockbuster clash against Pakistan. The two arch-rivals will face off on September 10.

Nepal did not make it easy for India. The eventual margin of victory would not tell the real story behind Nepal’s grit in their first ever international cricket match against one of the sport’s most celebrated teams. Their batsmen showed a lot of courage to post 230 and though a couple of the Nepal bowlers troubled India’s openers in short patches, the difference in skill sets was far too wide.

Rohit Sharma hit his 49th ODI half-century and overtook Virat Kohli’s tally of 1046 runs to become the leading run-scorer for India in Asia Cups. Rohit is now also second in the list for most run-scorers in Asia Cup history. Rohit’s opening partner Shubman Gill also spent valuable time in the middle and hit his 7th fifty in one-day internationals. Rohit was unbeaten on 74 while Gill hit the winning runs, taking his tally to 67 as India completed the chase in the 21st over. 

Earlier, Ravindra Jadeja had starred with the ball to pick 3 for 40 and join Irfan Pathan as the leading wicket-taker for India in Asia Cup (ODIs). Mohammed Siraj, who started poorly with the ball, also finished with a three-wicket haul.

There were two long rain delays in the game and the second one forced a reduction in overs for the Indian innings. India were handed a revised target of 145 off 23 overs. Rohit Sharma was troubled by Karan KC in the first over when India started their chase but Shubman Gill announced his intentions with three boundaries in the second over off Sompal Kami.


After the rain break, India had no choice but to be proactive and after a watchful restart, Rohit Sharma shifted gears. He scooped a delivery from Karan KC to the fence and then hit Sandeep Lamichhane for a boundary before a mistimed stroke was also rewarded with a six. The fielder at deep square leg should have taken the catch because really, Lamichhane had deceived Rohit into playing a false shot but the fielder was further inside the ropes than he would have liked.

Shubman Gill, who had struggled to replicate his form of the last year in the last two months, helped himself to a six off Lamichhane in his second over and soon India were on course, having raced away to 61 for no loss off 9 overs.

Karan KC, Lalit Rajbanshi and Dipendra Singh Airee toiled away heroically against India’s openers but Nepal’s most famous cricketer, Sandeep Lamichhane, was way off the mark and was repeatedly punished by Rohit Sharma for some poor bowling.

It wasn’t an easy win for India. Their pacers struggled, the fielding was erratic and the body language of the Indian players for most of the Nepal innings was poor. However, at the end of the day, Nepal’s lack of big-match experience showed and the bowlers allowed Rohit and Gill to score at will as the 100 came up in the 14th over. It was now a matter of time before India cruised home to victory.

Nepal’s batsmen gave an excellent account of themselves against India after Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to bowl. Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Bhurtel got Nepal off to a strong start after India’s fielders dropped three catches in the first five overs. Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli and Ishan Kishan grassed simple chances, allowing Nepal to mount a serious fight in a match many felt end with a one-sided victory for India.

Kushal Bhurtel was impressive against a good international bowling attack. He showed little nerves against Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj and further emboldened with India’s shoddy fielding efforts, Bhurtel smashed three fours and two sixes to give Nepal a few of their most memorable moments in international cricket.

Shardul Thakur, the serial partnership breaker, was pressed into service and he responded with the wicket of Kushal Bhurtel in his first over but by then, Nepal had reached a commanding 65 in the 10th over. However, Aasif continued to show exemplary technique as he marched on towards a historic landmark in Nepal’s first ever international match against their mighty neighbours.

India fought back with the two spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav pulling things back. While Jadeja was rewarded with wickets, Kuldeep was perhaps a little unlucky to finish without a single scalp in his 10 overs.

The pitch was two-paced and Ravindra Jadeja was able to use all his guiles to break the back of an inexperienced Nepal batting line-up. Bhim Sharki inside-edged to a delivery flighted outside off-stump while the skipper Rohit Paudel edged a length ball and was superbly caught by his Indian counterpart Rohit Sharma at slip. Jadeja struck for the third time to remove Kushal Malla and by then, you would have expected Nepal to roll over. But Aasif Sheikh had other ideas.

The footwork against the spinners and the quick running between the wickets would have you wonder what exactly the 22-year-old Aasif could do in the years to come. He became the first Nepal batsman to score a half-century against India and it looked like he would go on to get a few more before falling to Mohammed Siraj, who was rusty in his first international match since the World Test Championship final in June.


There was more fight left in Nepal. Gulsan Jha (23) played a good supporting role with Aasif before Dipendra Singh Airee smashed 29 off 25 balls to frustrate India’s bowlers who were lethargic and lacked the killer instinct. There was a long rain break with Nepal on the brink of 200 but Hardik Pandya gave India an important breakthrough after resumption when he trapped Airee LBW. And then came a special innings from Nepal’s No.8.

Sompal Kami was so good that it looked like Nepal could breach the 250-run mark against India, two-time ODI world champions. Rohit Sharma was palpably furious with India’s fielding efforts but he should have been more upset with the lengths his bowlers bowled to Kami who was at home as he tried to take his team towards a strong total. He fell to Mohammed Shami two short of a half-century but he had done his job which was to entertain Nepal fans who far outnumbered India’s and to put his side in a position which gave their bowlers a glimmer of hope.

Sompal Kami hit 48 off 56 and it was a huge statement, as big as the one Aasif Sheikh made earlier in the day. Nepal are not yet a global cricket power but they won’t be pushovers despite a horror start against Pakistan.

Meanwhile, India have several questions to answer. Their top-order failed against Pakistan and the pacers lacked enough sting to trouble Nepal. And India’s fielding efforts were poor despite the tricky ground conditions.

Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer were dismissed cheaply by the Pakistan pacers before Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya added 138 to give India’s a respectable 266. However, relentless rain in Pallekele meant the high-octane match was abandoned without a single ball bowled in the Pakistani innings.

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