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West Indies “A” captain Roston Chase (second from left) discusses strategy with his side during a break in play in the fourth Twenty20 against Nepal on Thursday. (CAN photo)

Bowlers usher Windies A to series win

May 2, 2024

KIRTIPUR, Nepal, CMC – West Indies “A” grabbed an unbeatable 3-1 lead in their Twenty20 series against hosts Nepal after their bowlers followed up strong batting from Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles to formalise a 28-run win in the penultimate match on Thursday.

Fletcher led the way with an unbeaten 84 from 54 balls that included nine fours and four sixes to earn the Player-of-the-Match award and was the linchpin in the Caribbean side’s total of 209 for three after they decided to bat in the latest T20 of the five-match series at the Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground.

Charles, a century-maker in the third T20 on Wednesday, supported with 58 off 30 balls that included three fours and six sixes, and shared one of two half-century stands in the innings with Fletcher that set the foundations for the visitors’ total.

West Indies “A” then defied dynamic batting from Rohit Paudel, the Nepalese captain and most prolific batsman in the series, whose 82 from 47 balls that included seven fours and five sixes was top score, and they dismissed the home team for 181.

Pacer Matthew Forde with three for 25 from four overs, and leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr with the pick three for 26 from four overs were the pick of the bowlers for the Caribbean side; while Allen and fellow left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie ended with two wickets apiece.

The visitors attack took advantage of another revamp of the Nepal side, which featured seven changes, including the return of Paudel and the inclusion of several players that were named on Wednesday in their provisional squad for the ICC Men’s T20I World in June in the Caribbean and United States.

Forde gave West Indies “A” a bright start to their defence when he bowled opener Aasif Sheikh for a duck with the second ball of the innings without a run on the board.

The Caribbean side were put on their heels when Paudel came to the crease and got into gear with a four, six, and four off successive balls in Forde’s second over, but Allen struck twice in his first over – the fifth of the innings – and the Nepalese were reeling on 31 for three.

He bowled opener Kushal Bhurtel for one and got left-hander Kushal Malla caught at extra cover three balls later for four before Motie conceded three successive boundaries to Paudel in his first over, and the hosts ended the Power Play on 45 for three.

The first signs of resistance to the visitors came when Sundeep Jora, playing his first match of the series, came to crease and shared 40 for the third wicket with Paudel before Walsh struck in his first over and got him caught in “cow corner” for 19 – and Nepal limped to 75 for four at the halfway stage.

A straight six off the first ball of the next over from Motie carried Paudel to his 50 off 34 balls, and he plundered three more off the West Indies “A” frontline spinners in successive overs and looked to be setting things up for a thrilling finish with stand of 53 with Dipendra Singh Airee.

With 90 required from 42 balls, Walsh struck a prime blow for the Caribbean side in his third over when he got Paudel caught at long-off from a sliced lofted drive, and the Nepalese were 124 for five, and the pressure was put on the lower order to deliver, but they did not.

Motie finished the match when he got Sompal Kami caught at backward point for 10, and last man Lalit Rajbanshi stumped off the last two balls of the match to formalise the result and continue the strong rebound for the visitors after they lost the series opener by four wickets with two balls remaining last Saturday at the same venue.

West Indies “A” then won the second T20 by 10 runs the next day and the third match on Wednesday by 76 runs. The final match of the series will be played on Saturday at the same ground.

Earlier, the Caribbean side again lost left-handed opener Alick Athanaze early when left-arm pacer Pratis Gharti Chhetri got him caught at deep square leg for five in the second over, but Fletcher came to the crease and eased the worries of the visitors with a 92-run for the second wicket with Charles.

They carried West Indies “A” to 60 for one at the close of the Power Play, and they continued to dominate before Charles was caught in “cow corner” off the last ball of the 10th over from Kushal Bhurtel, and the Caribbean side were 101 for two.

Keacy Carty struggled to get going and Bhurtel put him out of his misery in the 14th over when he got him caught at extra cover for four, but Fletcher, whose 50 came from 38 balls, anchored the rest of the innings and put 83 – unbroken – for the fourth wicket with Allen, not out on 33 from 19 balls with two fours and three sixes.

The tour to Nepal is a first for any West Indies side, and according to lead selector Desmond Haynes serves as another phase in preparation for the T20 World Cup.

He said it was an invaluable opportunity before the World Cup to get hopefuls not involved in the Indian Premier League and emerging prospects playing competitive T20 matches against the Nepalese, one of the ICC Associate teams that qualified as one of the 20 teams that will feature in the biggest T20I World Cup to be staged.

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