Zimbabwe A – 136-7 in 20 overs (Roy Kaia 49, Tadiwanashe Marumani 27, Luke Jongwe 23*; Sandeep Lamichhane 2/25, Basir Ahamad 1/18, Sompal Kami 1/19)
Nepal – 138-2 in 15.5 overs (Aasif Sheikh 87*, Kushal Bhurtel 34, Basir Ahamad 10; Luke Jongwe 1/26, Brandon Mavuta 1/27)
Nepal won by eight wickets
A brilliant innings of 87 not out by Nepal’s wicket-keeper and opening batter Aasif Sheikh brought the home side an eight-wicket victory over Zimbabwe A in the third and final T20 match between the sides at Kirtipur on Wednesday.
As in the previous match, the hosts won the toss and put the tourists in to bat.
Innocent Kaia began the innings in fine style, scoring 14 off 11 balls, including two fours, but in the third over he was caught out off the bowling of Sompal Kami.
Kudzai Maunze stayed only briefly, to score six runs off six balls, but was then unfortunately run out.
Then followed a fine partnership of 45 in seven overs for the third wicket between Tadiwanashe Marumani and Roy Kaia, before Marumani was caught off the bowling of Sandeep Lamichhane, having scored 27 off 30 balls.
The next two batters, Tony Munyonga (2) and Clive Madande (4), were unable to get going, and the score was 92 for five in the 15th over.
Fortunately, Luke Jongwe, in next, proved to be in good form and he took on the bowlers from the start, while Kaia continued to bat well.
Their partnership flourished until the final over, when Kaia, trying to run the single that would bring him his fifty, was run out for 49.
He faced 41 balls and hit seven fours in his fine innings which held the Zimbabwe A side together – the score was now 133 for six.
Brad Evans came in, but he and Jongwe managed only three runs off the remaining four deliveries, and ended with Evans being run out for two, attempting a second run.
Jongwe played a vital innings to finish not out with 23, scored off 23 balls with two fours.
Lamichhane was the most successful of the bowlers, taking two wickets for 25 runs in his four overs.
The total was a rather disappointing 136 for seven wickets, which meant the Zimbabwean bowlers would have to do a good job to contain the Nepalese batters.
However, this they were quite unable to do.
After a quiet opening over from Victor Nyauchi cost only two runs, Aasif Sheikh launched his attack on the inexperienced Trevor Gwandu, hitting his first over for 16 runs, including three fours.
Nyauchi’s second over went for 14, including two more fours to Sheikh and one to Kushal Bhurtel.
Sheikh hit another three boundaries off Gwandu, so that after four overs the score was already 49 without loss.
After the powerplay was over, the bowlers and fielders were able to tighten up somewhat, but the batters were always on top of the situation and able to keep the runs coming more quietly.
The opening pair put on 88 together before, in the 10th over, Brandon Mavuta broke through and bowled out Bhurtel for 34, which took him 26 balls.
The next man, Basir Ahamad, scored 10 runs quietly before he was caught off Jongwe, with the score 122 for two wickets in the 15th over.
But Sheikh finished the match in a blaze of glory, hitting three fours and a two off the next over, from Nyauchi, to reach the target with ease.
His innings lasted only 54 balls, and he hit a six and 13 fours.
Of the Zimbabwe A bowlers, only Jongwe and Mavuta, with one for 26 and one for 27 respectively off their four overs, managed to come out with presentable figures.
Nepal thus had 25 balls and eight wickets in hand when they claimed their victory to level the series, with both teams having won a match and the other one being rained off.