KATHMANDU :- Hong Kong had lost the last two Twenty20 matches against Nepal and they were eagerly waiting for a revenge against their arch rivals. They got it at the ACC Twety20 Cup this time as Nepal succumbed to Hong Kong’s pre tournament plans losing the match by six wickets today at the TU Stadium.
Nepali batsmen celebrated at the newly laid TU Stadium pitch in their 76-run victory over Maldives in the tournament opener but against Hong Kong, the hosts were no match. Hong Kong outplayed Nepal in all departments of the game – a great athleticism in the field and spot on bowling restricted the hosts to 115-8 and batsmen took o time in reaching 116-4 with 21 balls to spare.
It was Nepal’s second loss against Hong Kong in Twenty20. Nepal — who had defeated Hong Kong in the 2011 ACC Twenty20 Cup and 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifiers — had previously lost against them in the 2010 Asian Games in China. Hong Kong openers began their onslaught in the second over hitting skipper Paras Khadka for 14 runs. Irfan punished strike bowler Amrit Bhattarai in his second over hitting two sixes and two fours as Hong Kong raced to 39-0 in just three overs.
Basant Regmi removed dangerman Irfan — the opener holing out a catch to Shakti Gauchan at mid-wicket – after the opener made a 16-ball 30 with three boundaries and two sixes. Shakti then uprooted the stumps of James Atkinson dismissing the Hong Kong skipper for a duck. However, another opener Waqas Barkat and No 4 batsman Nizakat Khan then played sensibly adding 70 runs.
With Hong Kong just five runs shy of target, Basant dismissed Waqas and new man Courtney Kruger in a space of three balls but to no avail. Waqas made 39 off 37 with four hits to the fence, while Nizakat remained unbeaten on a 33-ball 42 with three fours and two sixes. Basant returned with 3-23 from four overs.
Earlier, Nepal never looked comfortable in their batting with Hong Kong saving almost 20 runs with their athleticism in the field and bowlers keeping a tight line. Opener Pradeep Airee showed some aggression making 23-ball 21 with two boundaries but his partner Subash Khakurel (six), Paras (four), Binod Bhandari (15), Sharad Vesawkar (five), Basant (five) and Manjeet Shrestha (seven) failed to impress.
Gyanendra Malla top scored for Nepal making 38 off 39 deliveries with three boundaries. Shakti hit a six in his eight-ball 11. Irfan’s brother Nadeem was man-of-the-match for picking up 3-18 from four overs. Nepal coach Coach Pubudu Dassanayake said his team was not up to its standard.
“All credits to Hong Kong because they played better cricket. Batting let us down today,” Dassanayake.
Paras knew batting failed this time. “We didn’t bat well enough. Things could have been better for us but unfortunately that didn’t happen. We were unable to build partnerships and lacked patience like Gyanendra had,” said Paras.
In another Group ‘A’ match in Pulchowk, Maldives stunned Singapore by five wickets. Maldives restricted Singapore to 132-9 after electing to field first. Opener Mohammad Rishwan then struck a quickfire 48 off 29 as Maldives finished at 133-5 in 16.4 overs. In Group ‘B’, United Arab Emirates (UAE) cruised to their second consecutive victory with a seven-wicket win over Oman.
Batting first, Oman were all out for a paltry 82 in 18.1 overs. Man-of-the-match Rohan Mustafa picked up 3-11 to squeeze out Oman for a low total. Vaibhav Wategaonkar fought a lonely battle for Oman with a 45-ball 40. In reply, Bakhtiyar Hamid (28), Abdul Shakoor (22) and Amjad Ali (20) made runs as UAE reached 84-3 in 12.3 overs. Also in Group ‘B’, a crucial seventh wicket partnership between Saad Khalid and Sibtain Raja helped Kuwait beat Bahrain by three wickets.
Bahrain were 132 all out after electing to bat first and looked like defending the target reducing Kuwait to 54-6 in seven overs. However, Saad and Sibtain rescued Kuwait with a 65-run stand. Saad top scored with a 35-ball 43, while Sibtain remained unbeaten on 33 off 36.