Nepal marked their arrival on the international cricket stage with a massive 80-run win over fellow newcomers Hong Kong in a preliminary ICC World Twenty20 World Cup group match on Sunday.
Nepal hammered 149-8 after being sent into bat and then bowled Hong Kong out for just 69 in 17 overs in the day-night match at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
The memorable Group A win was set up by skipper Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla, who put on 80 for the third wicket after Nepal were reduced to 36-2 in 5.1 overs.
Khadka hit a 37-ball 41, while Malla made 48 off 41 balls with four boundaries and a six.
Nepal lost four wickets off the last four deliveries of the innings — two of them run out — which denied them a bigger total, but even the 150-run target proved too stiff for Hong Kong after the inspirational Khadka had opener Irfan Ahmed caught behind with the first ball of the innings.
Hong Kong suffered a dramatic middle order collapse, losing four wickets in eight balls at the same score of 58.
The innings was wrecked by Nepal’s two left-arm spinners, with Shakti Gauchan claiming three wickets for nine runs and Basant Regmi taking three for 14.
Babar Hayat top-scored for Hong Kong with 20, but eight batsmen failed to reach double figures against the steady Nepal attack.
Khadka said the win augurs well for the future.
“There is good spirit in the team and the boys are really hungry to do well,” he said. “We want to play good cricket and continue that way in other matches too. We have to start all over again in our next game against Bangladesh and take the positives from this game.”
Hosts Bangladesh thumped Afghanistan by nine wickets in the Group A tournament opener in Dhaka earlier on Sunday.
Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson said poor batting let his team down.
“I think it was a decent effort to keep them down to 149, but the batting was disappointing,” he said. “We need to work harder and show we are a better team than this result indicates.”
Nepal and Hong Kong are among six qualifiers — Ireland, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands — who joined Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the two-group preliminary league.
Starting on Friday, the two group winners will then contest the Super-10 round with the top eight Test nations: Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, England, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, with the final set for April 6 in Dhaka.