A month ago, Nepal qualifying directly for the Men's World Cup Qualifier was a distant dream with some pondering whether Nepal's ODI status could even be at risk. But Nepal have a habit of late comebacks, often in games but this time in the context of an almost four-year long tournament.
When their top three fell for single figure scores, few would have expected the result, but innings from Rohit Paudel (77) and Aarif Sheikh (43) got their innings back on track. Some quick runs later on came from Gulsan Jha (37 from 32 balls) and Dipendra Singh Airee (34 from 19) helped the home team post 248 before the last wicket fell in the final over of their innings.
The UAE top order similarly struggled and they quickly found themselves on 8-4 within the first six overs. There was no comeback for the visitors though with Aayan Afzal Khan's 29 the top score.
Lalit Rajbanshi took 5-20, his first five wicket haul in ODIs, as the UAE crumbled to just 71 all out, a 177 run defeat that lifted Nepal above the USA in the table and ensured that they would keep ODI status for the next World Cup cycle.
It also kept alive their dreams of making the qualifier directly, with two wins from their final two matches needed to sneak in ahead of Namibia. Their campaign continues tomorrow against Papua New Guinea and will conclude on Thursday with another game against the UAE.
The UAE meanwhile can now finish no higher than sixth place and will enter the qualifier play-off knowing that their ODI status is at risk. They still have two more games to come, their next being against Papua New Guinea on Wednesday.