Nepal’s persistent batting vulnerabilities were once again exposed at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Monday, mirroring their earlier struggles against Pakistan. In a deja vu moment, they teetered on the brink of losing two wickets within the initial couple of overs against India.
However, much to their relief, the Men in Blue exhibited shockingly poor fielding standards, offering the Nepali batters a lifeline. Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj were visibly frustrated with the antics of Shreyas Iyer and Virat Kohli.
The first chance materialized on the final delivery of the opening over when Kushal Bhurtel faced Shami. The opener swung aggressively at a short and wide delivery, resulting in a thick outside edge that headed towards the first slip. Iyer, stationed in the slip cordon, should have comfortably completed a routine catch.
However, his delayed reaction turned a straightforward opportunity into a clumsy affair. Astonishingly, Kohli replicated this misfortune on the very next ball when Aasif Sheikh played a lofted drive off Siraj. Positioned at short cover, the 34-year-old attempted to adjust to the catch’s trajectory but ended up fumbling the Kookaburra multiple times, visibly exasperated as the white ball ultimately met the ground.
Adding to the fielding woes, Ishan Kishan contributed to the tally by dropping another straightforward catch behind the stumps in the fifth over. This series of fielding mishaps led to questions from Twitterati regarding India’s level of preparation in the fielding department.