Dipendra Singh Airee, Nepal’s trusted middle-order batter, hit a half-century to guide a six-wicket win over the hosts Oman in the first T20I of the Quadrangular series on Friday.
Airee, 22, starred with an economical spell (4-0-21-0) of bowling in the first innings, followed by an unbeaten 73 runs off 53 balls to guide Nepal in the opening match at Muskat. He was also involved in two 40s run partnerships with Gyanendra Malla and Aarif Sheikh during the chase.
Earlier, Nepal’s new captain, Sandeep Lamichhane, invited the hosts to bat first. Nepali bowlers responded back with regular wickets. In powerplay, Nepal struck three wickets including the dangerous Jatinder Singh. Openers Kashyap Prajapati was bowled by Abinash Bohara for 11(11) runs and Aarif Sheikh removed Jatinder for 13(8) runs. Ayaan Khan dismissed for 11(9) off Kamal Singh Airee. At sixth over, Oman lost three wickets for 42 runs on the board.
Sandeep Lamichhane, in his second over, removed Shoaib Khan for 11(13) to push Oman 4-58 in 9.3 overs. However, home skipper Zeeshan Maqsood and Mohammad Nadeem stabilise the innings with the 61-runs partnership for the fifth wicket. Bohara broke the partnership after removing Nadeem fell for 31 runs from 30 balls in the 18th over. Two balls later, he dismissed Naseem Khushi for a knot. Maqsood added unbeaten 43 runs in 41 balls with four boundaries and a six to take Oman to a below-par total of 135 runs.
Sagar Dhakal, making his debut, remained wicketless. His spell of three overs produced 36 runs. Sandeep Lamichhane was economical (3-0-17-1) but did not finish his full. Abinash Bohora was the pick of the bowlers for Nepal as he grabbed 3-26 in his four overs.
During the chase, Nepal’s openers started cautiously. Pradeep Airee, making his comeback into Nepali colors after a gap of 3-4 years, was rather defensive in approach. The result showed at the other end, as Aasif Sheikh (14) played one shot too many and holed out at the deep mid-wicket boundary. Kaleemullah looked in a great rhythm and even troubled Gyanendra Malla in the same over. Nepal lost Pradeep Airee in the same over as Kaleemullah produced a good length around the fourth stump line, a slight movement of the deck. Pradeep managed 4 runs from 14 balls without any boundaries.
Malla and Dipendra Singh Airee added a run-a-ball 40 runs partnership to consolidate the early loss. They rotated quite well, taking 28 singles, and managed three boundaries in that partnership. Malla was needlessly run-out for 13 off 16 balls in 11 overs and Oman were slightly ahead in the game.
Aarif Sheikh joined Airee at the middle and the pair added a quick 35 ball-45 run partnership for the fourth wicket. Sheikh contributed 25 runs in that partnership. In form Kaleemullah was brought in at 15 over to break the partnership, however, the pair managed 16 runs, including three fours, from that over
Khawar Ali, the legspinner, dismissed Aarif Sheikh as he was holed out at long-on boundary. He made 25 runs from 20 balls.
Dipendra Singh Airee managed a reverse sweep over point for a boundary to bring his half-century, his second in T20I career and his first away from home. He hit five boundaries in 46 balls. Immediately, he launched the next ball straight down the ground for six.
Nepal required 9 runs from the last six ball and cool and calm innings from Airee closed out the game for Nepal. He scooped the first to point boundary off the block-haul yorker. He ran for a couple towards the mid-wicket region in the next ball and closed with the wristy drive through long off for a four with three balls to spare.
Sharad Vesawkar remained unbeaten on 4 off 4 balls. Kaleemullah was the pick of the bowlers, taking 2-24 in four overs. Khawar Ali managed one wicket.
Dipendra Singh Airee top-scored with unbeaten 73 runs from 53 balls, including 8 boundaries and a six, was adjudged player of the match. Nepal earned two points to go to the top the of table.
Nepal will take on UAE on Saturday and Oman faces Ireland.