Nepal fans shell-shocked, players left inconsolable as team falls short of historic South Africa T20WC win by 1 run | Crickit
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Nepal fans shell-shocked, players left inconsolable as team falls short of historic South Africa T20WC win by 1 run

Jun 15, 2024 11:10 AM IST

South Africa made it 4 out of 4 in the group stage, while the loss implied that Nepal were officially eliminated from the T20 World Cup.

South Africa captain Aiden Markram said after losing the toss on Saturday at the Arnos Vale Ground in Kingstown, St Vincent that he is looking forward to a "good challenge" from Nepal, who has "played some really good cricket," despite his team having already qualified for the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup. Little did he know that Nepal would wreak such havoc to almost hand them their biggest-ever scare in their international cricket history.

Nepal lost to South Africa by just one run
Nepal lost to South Africa by just one run

The change of venue did not change the fortunes of the South African batters, as they put on yet another shambolic show in the World Cup despite recording their best-ever total of 115 for seven. The batters struggled against the Nepal spinners, with Kushal Bhurtel being the stand-out performer with his 4 for 19.

In response, the openers got Nepal off to a comfortable start, adding 36 runs for the first wicket before Tabraiz Shamsi picked up two quick wickets in the eighth over. It welcomed Nepal's best partnership in the chase as the third-wicket combination of Aasif Sheikh and Anil Shah added 50 runs off 36 balls before the minnows found themselves requiring just 31 more from the last 38 balls.

South Africa pulled back with a few quick wickets, but Nepal kept themselves in the game, needing 21 off the last four overs. The match was a rollercoaster of emotions as Shamsi once again helped South Africa grab the momentum with two wickets in the 18th over before Anrich Nortje removed Kushal Malla to send Nepal 6 down. However, Sompal Kami's 105-metre six brought the match back to life, leaving the audience in suspense. Gulsan Jha further intensified the situation by reducing the equation to 2 off 2 with a beautifully struck lofted drive for a boundary in the final over.

But it all unravelled just when Nepal stood on the verge of a historic win against South Africa. Ottneil Baartman bowled a dot ball to set up the finale - 2 needed from 1 - and stuck to his strategy of bowling another short ball to Gulshan, who failed to make any contact yet again, but was quick in taking off for a single to force a Super Over. However, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock collected the ball calmly and aimed for the bowler's end to dismiss Gulshan, but the ball hit his back and deflected towards cover. Heinrich Klaasen then picked up the ball and under-armed a flick towards the stump as Gulshan was caught just a yard short of the crease.

South Africa made it 4 out of 4 in the group stage, while the loss implied that Nepal were officially eliminated from the World Cup.

Gulshan was left shell-shocked at the bowler's end as South Africa players burst into wild celebrations. He was later seen in tears, as were most of the players, while the fans were left in disbelief and inconsolable.

Nepal captain Rohit Paudel was quick to point out the positives from the match and thanked the ardent supporters that flew all the way from Nepal to cheer the team.

"Very proud of the unit, especially the way we bowled and batted. We saw the wicket yesterday and thought it will be on the slower side. We saw that it helped spinners and thats when we introduced Kushal Bhurtel and carried on with the spinners. We were so close yet a little far. We didnt do well in the crunch moments but we fought very well. Well be on the other side next time if we play teams like this more often. I want to thank the fans for supporting us. We are very grateful to them," he said.

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