Debutants Nepal produced a dominating all-round performance to crush Hong Kong by 80 runs in a Qualifying Group A match of the World T20 in Chittagong on Sunday.
Sent into bat, Nepal first rode on batting heroics from Gyanendra Malla (48) and skipper Paras Khadka (41) to post a competitive 149 for eight and then left-arm spinners Shakti Gauchan and Basant Regmi scalped three wickets apiece to bowl out Hong Kong for 69 runs.
Nepal will next play hosts Bangladesh in their crucial last Group A encounter, again in Chittagong, on Tuesday and the winner of that match will seal a place in the main round of World T20.
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Bangladesh had defeated Afghanistan by nine wickets earlier in the day, which means the other Group A match between Afghanistan and Hong Kong on Tuesday is just a formality.
At the Zahur Ahmed Choudhury Stadium on Sunday, Nepal made a bright start to their innings after being put into bat with the opening duo of Subhash Khakure (22) and Sagar Pun (13) adding 36 runs for the first wicket.
Leading from the front
After Khakure and Pun’s dismissal in quick succession, Malla and captain Paras took the onus on themselves to guide the Nepal innings and stitched a crucial 80 runs off just 65 balls for the third wicket to set the platform the Himalayan nation.
Malla scored his 48 off 41 balls with the help of four fours and one six, while Khadka’s knock came off 37 deliveries and was laced with four boundaries.
For Hong Kong, pacer Haseeb Amjad picked up three wickets for 25 runs, while left-arm orthodox picked up two wickets giving away 26 runs.
Chasing 150 for win, Hong Kong’s innings never really got off as they lost wickets at regular intervals to be bowled out in 17 overs.
Only three Hong Kong batsmen — Babar Hayat (20), Waqas Barkat (18) and Mark Chapman (13) — managed to get to double digit scores.
Regmi and Gauchan produced a spell of fine left-arm spin bowling and shared six wickets between them to rock Hong Kong’s chase. Apart from Regmi and Gauchan, 18-year-old pacer Sompal Kami grabbed two wickets for 13 runs.
Brief scores: Nepal 149-8 in 20 overs (Gyanendra Malla 48, Paras Khadka 41; Haseeb Amjad 3-25) defeated Hong Kong 69 all out in 17 overs (Babar Hayat 20; Shakti Gauchan 3-9, Basant Regmi 3-14).