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Nepal beat HK, enter ACC Championship

Nepal defeated Hong Kong by seven wickets in a rain-interrupted match of the ACC Premier League at the Bauyemas Oval in Malaysia to qualify for the ACC Championship on Thursday.

Following the victory, Nepal are tied on six points with group leaders Afghanistan and third-placed Oman in the standings with just run rate separating the three teams. The top four teams from the tournament will qualify for the ACC Championship (two-day cricket) to be held in UAE from May 7-14.UAE (four points) and Malaysia (two points) will battle it out for the remaining berth available with both teams needing to win their final round matches against Oman and Hong Kong respectively. Nepal will meet Afghanistan in their final match on Wednesday with the winner sealing the title, provided Oman loses.

Nepal bowled superbly in the match to cancel out a scintillating century from opener Irfan Ahmed before bundling out Hong Kong for just 181 runs in 41.5 overs. Nepal was going along nicely at 121-3 in 27.4 overs but rain intervened for an hour that saw them get a revised target of 144 from 38 overs.

Skipper Paras Khadka and Sharad Vesawkar took the team across the line with an unbeaten 38-run stand. Paras top scored for Nepal with 43 off 52 hitting six boundaries and Sharad’s 33-ball 19 included three hits to the fence. Nepal finished at 147-3 with 23 balls remaining.

 

Nepal had a modest start when openers Subash Khakurel and Naresh Budhayer added 38 runs for the first wicket. Subash made 16 off 24 with two fours before losing his wicket to Tanwir Afzal. Gyanendra Mall stepped in and stroked three crispy boundaries before losing his wicket to Irfan for 15 off 10. Naresh and Paras then took Nepal across triple figures with a 53-run stand before the former handed a catch to Nizakata Khan off Irfan.

 

Naresh made 41 off 86 with six fours for his highest score in international cricket from the senior national team. After the dismissal of Naresh, it was left on Paras and Sharad.

Earlier, Hong Kong had a flying start when Irfan, who scored most of the runs, shared 71 runs for the first wicket with Waqas Barkat (16). Basanta Regmi got rid of Waqas followed with the dismissal of Nizakat Khan (17).

Aarif Sheikh then joined the act marking his debut from the national team with the twin dismissals of skipper Jamie Atkinson (11) and Babar Hayat (duck). After Ankur Sharma was run out, Hong Kong were reeling at 117-5 but they still had their key man Irfan on the crease.

 

Irfan kept going from the other end and shared 52 runs for the sixth wicket with Roy Lamsam (18) approaching his century. In a breathtaking last four overs, Hong Kong saw their batsman Irfan complete a century with a single off Som Pal who picked up two wickets each in successive overs as they lost their last five wickets for just 12 runs.

 

Irfan fell to Basanta as the last Hong Kong batsman out after hitting a six off the same bowler. Som Pal finished with the figures of 4-34 from seven overs and Basanta took 3-42 from 8.5. Aarif had 2-30 from nine overs.

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