T20 World Cup: ‘Very proud of unit, especially the way we’ve played’, Paudel after close loss v SA

Kingstown, June 15 (IANS) After South Africa managed to edge out Nepal by just one run, denying the Asian side a historic victory against a Full Member nation in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at St. Vincent, Nepal’s captain Rohit Paudel expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, highlighting their impressive bowling and batting efforts despite falling just short of the target.

“I am very proud of the unit, especially the way we bowled and batted, I’m very proud of that,” Paudel said at the presentation. “We were very close but a little far. In crunch moments we did well, but the way we fought was very good. If we get more exposure regularly then next games we will be on the other side (of the result).”

Nepal’s near-upset was driven by their spinners, Dipendra Singh Airee and Kushal Bhurtel, who claimed seven wickets for just 40 runs in their combined eight overs. Sandeep Lamichhane, playing his first game of the tournament, bowled four economical overs for just 18 runs. The spinners effectively choked South Africa, conceding only 75 runs in 14 overs.

“Yeah, when we saw the wicket yesterday, we thought it would be on the slower side. Eventually when we were bowling I thought the wicket was helping the spinners and then we introduced Bhurtel and we carried on with the spinners.”

South Africa’s innings was a struggle from the start after being put in to bat. They managed only 38 runs for the loss of one wicket in the powerplay and struck just two sixes in the entire innings. Tristan Stubbs was the only batter to score at over a run a ball, contributing an unbeaten 27 off 18 balls to help South Africa post a modest 115.

“We have a good pace attack and you want to back that,” Markram said at the presentation. “I thought if we got the ball in the right areas, there could be something in the wicket and I felt like it was challenging for the batters. Looking back in hindsight, we should have probably picked an extra spinner on this wicket. I didn’t think it’d spin that much. But the pacers kept us in the game and a lot of credit has to go to them tonight.”.

Nepal seemed on course for a historic win, reaching 85/2 in the 14th over with the required rate well within reach. However, Tabraiz Shamsi turned the game around, taking two crucial wickets in the 18th over. Anrich Nortje and Ottneil Baartman then held their nerve in the final overs, with Baartman defending seven runs in the last over to secure a narrow victory.

“I think it’s two things: first and foremost, the way (Nepal) bowled it made it really tough for us throughout the game,” he said. “You have to give them a lot of credit. They put us under a lot of pressure, and it shows the quality they have in their change room. If you mix that with maybe not enough conviction in our plans and a slight lack in intensity, you can get stuck and that’s what happened tonight. Like I said, there’ll be a lot of learnings and we’d assume Caribbean conditions might be a little similar moving forward so it’s about backing plans that we develop and pretty much be at ease with whatever comes after having solid plans.”

Despite the defeat, Paudel was optimistic about Nepal’s future, emphasising the importance of playing more matches against top sides to improve their performance. “In crunch moments we did well, but the way we fought was very good,” he said.

South Africa finished on top of Group D with four wins out of four and will advance to the Super Eight stage, joining Group 2 alongside the USA, West Indies, and either England or Scotland from Group B.



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