Hong Kong dent Nepal’s hopes


Nepal suffered a blow in their bid to make it to the second straight World Cup when they faced a five-wicket defeat at the hands of Hong Kong in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Stormont, Belfast today.

Put into bat first after Hong Kong skipper Tanwir Afzal won the toss, Nepal’s batting woes wobbled as they were bowled out Nepal for 109 runs in 20 overs. In reply, Hong Kong reached 110-5 in 19.1 overs.

With the loss, Nepal dropped down to the fifth position, while Hong Kong climbed to fourth. Nepal paceman Sompal Kami gave a hope to the camp when he struck with the first ball of the second over removing danger-man Irfan Ahmed (one) with six runs on board.

But Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan put Hong Kong in strong position adding 48 runs for the second wicket before Basant Regmi brought Nepal back into the match. He dismissed Khan for 25 off 18 balls that included two boundaries and a six, before taking the wicket of Rath (19 off 34) in the 11th over.

Regmi then removed Mark Chapman (nine) in the 13th over, while his fourth victim was Kinchit Shah (12). But Babar Hayat (17) and Aizaz Khan (12) remained unbeaten as they managed to pull a victory with five balls to spare. Regmi was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with the figures of 4-16, while Kami took a wicket.

Earlier, Nepal made a disastrous start when Subash Khakurel (two) lost his cool and was the first to go with just 10 runs on the board. Khakurel came back in the starting XI after staying out in the first three matches but he failed to make the most out of it. Vice-captain Gyanendra Malla (naught) followed soon and Nepal were reduced to 10-2 by the end of second over.

Skipper Paras Khadka (one) fell in the fifth ball of the fourth over, while Sagar Pun, who stuck a boundary in his 12-ball 11, lost his wicket in the first ball of seventh over. At that stage, Nepal were reeling at 17-4. After Basant Regmi (11) was out with 30 runs on the board, Pulami and Sharad Vesawakar added crucial 41 runs for the sixth wicket to help the team reach a respectable total.

Vesawakar top scored for Nepal with 24-ball 27 that included two fours and a six. He added 16 runs with Sompal Kami for the eighth wicket. Pulami scored 25 off 34 balls with two sixes, while Kami struck a six in his 12-ball 16. Haseeb Amjad was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers claiming 4-16, while Irfan Ahmed took two and Nizakat Khan, Aizaz Khan and Tanwir Afzal grabbed a wicket each. Nepal will play against Papua New Guinea at the Village, Malahide, Dublin on Friday.

In other Group A matches, Papua New Guinea defeated group leaders Ireland by two wickets at Stormont, while Jersey routed United States of America by five wickets at Bready.

In Group B, Oman stunned Afghanistan with 40 runs, while Kenya registered a 42-run victory over the UAE at Edinburgh. Despite losing the match, Ireland remained at the top of the table with six points, while PNG are second followed by Namibia. Jersey have two points, while USA are at bottom with two.

In Group B, Afghanistan lead the table with seven points from five matches, followed by Kenya (seven), Oman (six), Scotland (four), Netherlands (four) and UAE (two).