Nepal 190 (Bhandari 59, Kushal Malla 50, Stevenson 3-30) beat USA 155 (Holland 75, Karan 4-15, Bhari 4-43) by 35 runs
The conveyor belt of teenage prodigies in Nepal has churned out a new sensation in the form of allrounder Kushal Malla, who on Saturday broke fellow countryman Rohit Paudel’s record to became the youngest player in men’s cricket to score a half-century in ODIs, during Nepal’s 35-run win over USA. Rohit had set the record in 2019 after making a fifty against UAE in Dubai, but Kushal bested him by making 50 off 51 balls at the age of 15 years and 340 days.
Kushal entered the XI at the expense of Paudel, arriving at No. 6 with the score 47 for 4 after Nepal had been sent in. Three overs later they were 49 for 5 before Kushal commenced a thrilling counter-attack against USA’s medium-pace battery, bringing the crowd of 12,000 fans inside Tribhuvan University Stadium to their feet as chants of “Ku-SHAL! Ku-SHAL!” rang out around the ground.
After a single to get off the mark, he struck four and six off USA’s fastest bowler, Cameron Stevenson, in the 22nd over. His sweetest strike of the day came three overs later when he drove captain Saurabh Netravalkar straight down the ground for his second six. He was spilled at mid-off when he offered a straightforward chance on 38 but made the most of it by clocking another six off Ian Holland’s medium-pace in the next over.
A single took him to his half-century off 49 balls and he was so focused on the task at hand, rebuilding the innings during an 84-run partnership with Binod Bhandari, that he never raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd’s raucous ovation. He fell two balls later, pulling a short ball from left-arm spinner Karima Gore to deep midwicket.
Kushal added to his batting exploits later in the day by contributing a superb spell of left-arm spin. He claimed the wicket of Elmore Hutchinson clean bowled to make the score 65 for 7 during USA’s failed chase of 191. He eventually ended with figures of 1 for 30 in 10 overs as USA were bowled out for 155. Despite Kushal’s all-round heroics, fast bowler Karan KC was named Man of the Match for Nepal after claiming 4 for 15, including the prized scalp of Holland for 75 as the ninth wicket when USA was threatening to rally in the final 10 overs.