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HARARE, ZIMBABWE - JUNE 22: Shai Hope of West Indies celebrates their century during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier Zimbabwe 2023 match between the West Indies and Nepal at Harare Sports Club on June 22, 2023 in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Photo by Johan Rynners-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Windies overcome Nepal

June 22, 2023

CMC – Hundreds from current captain Shai Hope and past captain Nicholas Pooran, set up West Indies for a convincing, 101-run win against Nepal in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier on Thursday in Zimbabwe.

Hope cracked 132 and left-hander Pooran slammed 115, and they shared a double hundred, fourth wicket stand to help the Caribbean side reach 339 for seven from their allocation of 50 overs after a shaky start in their second Group A match at the Harare Sports Club.

Hope and Pooran nursed West Indies back to good health with a stand of 216 after the Caribbean side slumped to 55 for three.

Overhauling such a total was always beyond the capacity of the Nepalese, and though they got a top score of 63 from Aarif Sheikh, they were never going to stop West Indies from claiming their second win in a row and move ahead of hosts Zimbabwe on net run rate at the top of the standings in the group.

Kyle Mayers formalised the result when he held a sharp return catch to send Karan Khatri Chhetri packing for 28 with two balls remaining in the Nepal chase.

“We were put on the back foot there,” Hope said. “The key was absorbing as much pressure as possible and then find a way to transfer that pressure in the back end.

“Pooran made it a lot easier for me. The aim was to take it as deep as possible give us the best chance towards the end.”

The Caribbean side could confirm their place in the Super Six stage of the Qualifier with a third win in a row against the Zimbabweans on Saturday at the same venue.

Sent in to bat, West Indies were rocking on nine for two in the fifth over after Kyle Mayers was caught at mid-wicket for one off Karan, and fellow pacer Gulsan Jha got Johnson Charles caught behind for a duck.

Opener Brandon King was just beginning to find his flow and started the repair effort with Hope before leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane bowled him for 32, and the Caribbean side stumbled to 55 for three.

Pooran came together with Hope in the 16th over and enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune in the next over when wicketkeeper Aasif Sheikh dropped him, on three, off left-arm spinner Lalit Rajbanshi.

This appeared to energise Pooran, and he celebrated the reprieve with the first of his four sixes and continued to indulge himself, but Hope was no slouch, and they both reached the milestone in the 40th over.

Hope clipped the third ball of the over from Gulsan through square leg for two runs to complete his 15th ODI hundred before Pooran carved the last ball to the backward point boundary to arrive at his second ODI hundred – four years after scoring his first.

“I don’t think I hit the targets where I wanted to, but I’m happy to just bat as deep as I possibly could there,” Hope said. “The team really needed me.

“They [Nepal] bowled well, and I must commend their bowlers, especially their spinners, they stuck to their task well. We batted well in that period to overcome their spin threat. There’s obviously room for improvement, so we need to make sure we are ticking those boxes going into the next game.”

Pooran offered a return catch to off-spinner Dipendra Singh Airee with six overs remaining, and West Indies thrashed a further 68 from them for the loss of three wickets.

Rajbanshi claimed Hope and all-rounder Keemo Paul in the final over and ended with three for 52 from 10 overs, making him the most successful Nepal bowler.

Pacer Alzarri Joseph, bowling aggressively and sharing the new ball with Jason Holder, set back the Nepalese early when he bowled Kushal Bhurtel for five in the second over.

Holder pushed Nepal back further when he got Bhim Sharki caught behind for two in the fifth over, and they laboured to 42 for two at the end of the Power Play.

West Indies fielded a bit raggedly, and Nepalese tried to rebuild with their captain Rohit Paudel scoring 30 and Aasif Sheikh getting 28, but they were a few flashes of brilliance from substitute fielder Keacy Carty, and this stemmed any real momentum.

West Indies had Nepal on the back-foot on 114 for five at the halfway mark of the chase, but

Aarif provided the most resistance and put on 68 for the seventh wicket with Gulsan that brought respectability to the total.

West Indies claimed the last four Nepalese wickets for 41 in 38 balls – including Gulsan for 42 and Aarif – with Joseph, left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, and pacer Keemo Paul all taking two wickets.

In the other match, the Netherlands bounced back from a narrow defeat against Zimbabwe when they beat the United States by five wickets at the Takashinga Cricket Club.

The Dutch captain Scott Edwards led from the front with an unbeaten 67 to carry his side over the finish line after the American made 211 for eight batting first.

The qualifiers continue on Friday with Group B leaders Oman chasing a third win in a row against Sri Lanka at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, where Scotland face United Arab Emirates at the Bulawayo Athletic Club.

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