Centuries from Shai Hope (132) and Nicholas Pooran (115) led the West Indies to a massive 101-run victory over Nepal to shore up their Super six hope on the fifth day of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe on Thursday.
The pair posted a 216-run stand for the fourth wicket as West Indies raked up 339 for seven off their 50 overs.
West Indies had a nightmarish start to their innings, losing Kyle Mayers (1) and Johnson Charles (0) in the first five overs. Probing new-ball spells from Nepal bowlers was backed by sharp work in the field as West Indies batters struggled for runs in the initial overs. The batting side were 30 for two at the end of first powerplay.
Gradually, Brandon King and Hope grew in confidence and improved their scoring rate. But just when they had started taking off, King fell to Sandeep Lamichhane in the 15th over. This was the leg-spinner’s first wicket of the tournament. Nepal very nearly had their fourth wicket when Pooran edged a Lalit Rajbanshi delivery behind the wicket, but the keeper failed to hold on.
This drop proved to be costly as Hope and Pooran unleashed a series of exquisite shots to bring West Indies back into the game.
The set batters made Nepal pay for even the smallest of errors and went about piling quick runs. They added almost 100 runs between the 26 to the 37 over mark. Both the batters brought up their centuries in the 40th over. This was the 15th ODI hundred for Hope, whereas it was the second ODI century for Pooran.
Nepal finally got a breakthrough when Dipendra Airee pulled off a brilliant catch off his own bowling to end Pooran’s knock. Their stand of 216 was the second-best fourth-wicket partnership for West Indies in ODIs.
Pooran’s fall brought little relief to the bowling side, as the West Indies continued wreaking havoc on the pitch. Hope’s brilliant hundred came to an end in the final over.
Chasing a victory target of 340, Nepal were dismissed for 238 with two balls remaining, handing the West Indies their second successive win.
West Indies were poor in the field but still managed to eke out two Nepal wickets in the first powerplay. Kushal Bhurtel was cleaned up by Alzarri Joseph for five, whereas Bhim Sarki scored only two before being caught behind off the bowling of Jason Holder. Nepal’s chances dropped even further after Aasif Sheikh (28) fell to a loose stroke in the 12th over.
Over the next few overs, the sub-continental side looked to preserve wickets in order to rebuild its innings. But this effort received a setback when Holder bounced out Rohit Paudel for 30. Akeal Hosein joined in on the fun when he got the wicket of Kushal Malla courtesy of a brilliant catch in the deep by substitute, Keacy Carter.
In the second half, Nepal went into the defensive mode soon after Dipendra Airee (23) fell to Hosein in the 28th over. Aarif Sheikh and Gulsan Jha stayed at the wicket but added merely 68 runs from 94 balls. In the final powerplay, West Indies managed to run through the Nepal lower-order.
Holder (3-34), Joseph (2-44), Hossein (2-49), and Keemo Paul (2-63) were the chief wicket takers.
West Indies next game will be against hosts Zimbabwe on Saturday.