Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 May 2019

Paras Khadka: More space needed for fans at UAE v Nepal matches

Some supporters were locked out on Friday at ICC Academy in Dubai as ground capacity for watching the second Twenty20 international between the sides

The Twenty20 and ODI series between UAE and Nepal at the ICC Academy in Dubai have been well attended. Pawan Singh / The National
The Twenty20 and ODI series between UAE and Nepal at the ICC Academy in Dubai have been well attended. Pawan Singh / The National

Paras Khadka urged UAE cricket to consider altering the venue next time they host Nepal for a series, in order to accommodate the touring side’s huge fan-base.

Around 1,800 people were admitted to the ICC Academy in Dubai for the second match of the Twenty20 series, which Nepal eventually won by four wickets with three balls to spare.

Hundreds more were locked out, however, after the ground reached capacity midway through the match.

Attendances in the three one-day internationals, and one T20 match, that preceded this one, have also been appreciable.

However, this was the first time supporters had been locked out, given the large volume who wanted to attend on Friday afternoon.

A variety of Nepalese supporters questioned why the match was not staged in one of the international stadia – either across Dubai Sports City, or in Abu Dhabi or Sharjah - rather than at the Academy Oval.

Khadka suggested the ICC Academy is ideal for matches of this type, but said increased spectator seating might be an idea in future.

“The ground is amazing, facilities-wise, the pitch and everything is world class,” Khadka said.

“Nepal, with the kind of support that we have, maybe we next time we can manage the game better, and get better places for the crowd to watch the game from.

“There are a lot of people that follow the game. More than the venue, perhaps it is about adding facilities for the people that want to come and watch the game.”

Nepal ensured Sunday’s third T20 match will be the series decider as Dipendra Airee guided them to a last-over victory, a day after they had lost by 21 runs to the same opposition.

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The away side had been well placed at the halfway stage, having bowled UAE out for 107. Opener CP Rizwan top scored for the hosts with 44 from 43 balls, and batted until the 19th over.

The UAE batting was picked apart, though, by a combination of Abinash Bohara, Sompal Kami, and Sandeep Lamichhane.

The visitors initially struggled in reply, though, in the face of fine bowling by Sultan Ahmed, Mohammed Naveed and Imran Haider, but Airee’s 47 not out carried Nepal to the win.

“That is his role,” Khadka said of Airee. “In the last four matches, he had not been getting runs.

“He just wanted to go out there, and he is somebody who we really rely upon. He has done this before and hopefully he can stay like this.

“I am very happy for him he has managed to get the runs and get us into the winning position.”

Sultan, who took two for nine from his four overs, said UAE still believes they could force a series-clinching win despite their paltry batting total.

“We had full confidence we could win the game,” Sultan said. “We were in the game until the 13th over [of the Nepal innings], especially after taking early wickets.

“After the 13th over, we had some misfields and two run out chances missed. But we will come back stronger in the final game.”

Updated: February 1, 2019 06:09 PM

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