Thanks to a heavy downpour in the lead-up to the game, the outfield at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium was sluggish. The pitch was on the slower side as well. India’s out-fielding and catching were even sloppier than the conditions as Nepal tallied a respectable 230 before being bowled out in the penultimate over of a must-win Asia Cup clash.
RELATED – INDIA VS NEPAL HIGHLIGHTS
But when it came to a curtailed run-chase, India’s openers were far from sloppy. Captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill made a mockery of Nepal’s bowling attack, overhauling a target of 145 in 23 overs with 17 balls to spare.
Had it not been for the ground staff’s stupendous effort, a short chase would not have been possible after two heavy downpours in the evening.
But once the chase resumed, with India starting from 17 for no loss in 2.1 overs, Rohit and Shubman were at their flawless best.
While Rohit was at his marauding best, especially against the spin, Shubman – who started off with three boundaries before the play was suspended – played the second fiddle to his captain.
India’s effort in the fielders was exactly opposite to the opening batters’ stellar performance. Shreyas Iyer at first slip off the ball of the first over of the match to deprive Mohammed Shami – replacing Jasprit Bumrah who has returned home for paternity leave – off a wicket off the last ball of the first wicket.
If Aasif Sheikh was fortunate in the opening over, it was his partner Kushal Bhurtel’s turn the very next ball with Virat Kohli at covers dropping a dolly to rob Mohammed Siraj of a wicket.
In the fifth over, it was Ishan Kishan’s turn to join the butter finger spree as he dropped a dolly off Bhurtel’s blade down the leg. Bhurtel then came into his element and gave his supporters more than a few reasons to rejoice.
The highlight of his cameo was the hook off Siraj in the sixth over that landed into the parking lot, beyond the grass bank. Shardul Thakur’s golden arm did the trick in the 10th as Bhurtel’s cameo came to an end with a nick to Kishan.
While the Nepal batters found Ravindra Jadeja extremely difficult to negotiate, Aasif laid an anchor before being caught by Kohli off Siraj in the 30th over. At 132 for five, India sensed to wrap up the innings but Sompal Kami played a delightful innings to help Nepal cross the 200-run mark with ease.
India’s sloppy fielding – with Shardul, Shami and Kuldeep Yadav being the biggest culprits – helped Nepal as India conceded at least a dozen extra runs through misfields and wayward throws.