Hope, Pooran and bowlers seal West Indies’ win over Nepal

SUMMARY: West Indies 339-7 from 50 overs (Shai Hope 132, Nicholas Pooran 115, Brandon King 32, Rovman Powell 29; Lalit Rajbanshi 3-52) vs Nepal 238 from 49.4 overs (Aarif Sheikh 63, Gulsan Jha 42; Jason Holder 3-34, Alzarri Joseph 2-45, Akeal Hosein 2-49, Keemo Paul 2-63)

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Centuries from Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran saw West Indies post 339 and demolish Nepal by 101 runs to shore up their Super Six hopes.

After early wobbles, Hope and Pooran combined for a 216-run partnership for the fourth wicket, scoring 132 and 115 respectively as West Indies registered their highest score of the tournament.

Nepal were never in the chase despite extensive sloppiness in the field from West Indies, and wickets for Jason Holder, Keemo Paul and Akeal Hosein helped them bowl Nepal out for 238.

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Nepal won the toss and Rohit Paudel elected to field first, a trend that has seen most sides be successful in these qualifiers. It seemed to pay off immediately with his side enjoying the better of the first ten overs.

Karan KC and Gulshan Jha removed Kyle Mayers and Johnson Charles within the first five overs to leave them two wickets down for nine.

Sandeep Lamichhane – much improved from the first two games, also got his first wicket of the tournament when he cleaned up Brandon King with a googly shortly after.

That brought Pooran and Hope together, but a costly drop when Pooran had just scored three by keeper Aasif Sheikh would prove to be a real sliding doors moment.

Pooran smacked one six each off Lalit Rajbanshi and Lamichhane immediately after as West Indies began to move through the gears, and Hope joined in on the aggression.

He would soon bring up his half-century, before Pooran reached his at a much quicker clip off 51 balls. By now, West Indies were 162-3 with a third of the innings set to go, beautifully set up for the finish.

West Indies bowlers kept Nepal in check throughout the chase (Photo: ICC via Getty Images)

It was a platform they took advantage of, with Pooran throwing caution to the wind thereafter as Hope played second-fiddle, willing to be a spectator to the fireworks.

Jha was tonked for 15 in an over and Karan for 12, and it even appeared as if Pooran might beat Hope to three figures. In the end, they both got there in the 40th over, Hope easing to it with a brace while Pooran carved a boundary behind point to bring his up in 81 balls.

West Indies had a free rein in the final 10 overs, through which they’d contribute 98, helped by cameos from Rovman Powell and Holder, giving Nepal 340 to get their first points on the board.

It was an overwhelming ask, and Nepal almost seemed to treat the target as a suggestion rather than a goal. Early wickets for Joseph and Holder didn’t help as Nepal went back into their shell.

But they continued to lose wickets as the run rate climbed, despite the profligacy of the West Indian fielding, which bordered on the uninterested at times. There were at least seven catches put down all innings, as well as a number of misfields that could be put down to lackadaisical efforts.

But, true to West Indies form, it was interspersed with moments of divine brilliance in the field. A catch on the boundary by Keacy Carty was the pick of the lot, leaping over the rope before coming back in to complete a perfectly executed catch to dismiss Kushal Malla.

A sharp grab by Roston Chase sent Dipendra Airee packing too, and by now, Nepal had long been nudged out of the contest, tottering on the brink of a colossal defeat at 128-6.

Aarif Sheikh hung around with the lower order, scoring a spirited half-century to ensure his side put up a respectable total. Nepal crossed 200 and ensured they took the game to the final over thanks to Karan, who played his shots as West Indies went through the motions.

It was a successful effort, of sorts, to delay an outcome that had been obvious for at least a couple of hours, as West Indies shook hands on their second successive win. (ESPNcricinfo)

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