Kuala Lumpur, July 25:

Vice captain Paras Khadka scored a half century as Nepal started the ACC Trophy Elite Cup campaign with a 44-run victory over Hong Kong here today.

Batting first after winning the toss at the Selangor Turf Club, Nepal accumulated 245 runs losing seven wickets in their allotted 50 overs and then restricted Hong Kong for 201-9.

Nepal had a disastrous start when they lost Kanishka Chaugain in the first over with just one run on the board. Opener Paresh Lohani and Sharad Vesawkar took the team to safety adding 96 runs for the second wicket.

Vesawkar missed the half century by just two runs, while Lohani scored 42 runs off 75 balls that included five boundaries and a six. Vesawkar hit nine fours in his 73-ball 48. Nepal came under pressure for the second time after both the batsmen fell at the team score of 97 runs.

Paras and Mehboob Alam then added 38 runs for the fourth wicket before hard-hitting Alam fell for 20 off 28 balls. Paras combined with Gyanendra Malla to add 51 runs for the fifth wicket. Malla hit two fours in his 31-ball 23. Man of the match Paras shared further 44-run stand with Basanta Gauchan (9) before he fell for 81 runs. He hit eight fours and three sixes in his 72-ball knock. Shakti Gauchan (12) and Mahesh Chhetry (2) remained unbeaten.

For Hong Kong, Munir Ahmed and Ilias Gull took two wickets each. Chasing a victory target of 246 runs, Hong Kong batsmen failed to cope with the Nepali pace and lost wickets in regular intervals. Apart from Butt Khaled Hussain (52) and Najib Ahamed (32), other batsmen failed to make significant contributions.

Hussain scored 52 off 123 balls hitting one four and three sixes, while Ahamed’s 32 came off just 12 balls and included five hits to the fence.

For Nepal, Basanta Regmi took 3-41 off 10 overs, while skipper Binod Das claimed 3-57 off nine overs. Mehboob Alam and Paras Khadka pocketed one wicket each.

Nepal’s coach Roy Luke Dias was happy with the team’s performance. “We opened the campaign with a win and it will boost the players’ morale,” he said. Dias also praised batsmen for playing responsibly. Skipper Binod Das was also of the same view. “I am happy with the players’ show and I hope it will continue in the matches to come,” he said.

Nepal will take on Qatar in the second match on Saturday and coach Dias hinted at retaining the same squad. “The 10 players will be the same and I will choose one among Raj Kumar Pradhan, Amrit Bhattarai and Sanjam Regmi,” he said. Pradhan was in the playing XI today, but did not get the chance to bat and conceded 27 runs in his eight-over spell without taking a wicket.