Nepal got themselves a biggest prize in their sporting history entering the ICC World Twenty20 after a thrilling five-wicket victory over Hong Kong in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers playoff at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi today.
Needing 144 to win, Nepal needed 13 runs to win from the last over bowled by Haseeb Amjad. Sharad Vesawkar was once again the hero as he smashed Amjad for a six off the first ball and got an inside edge in the second ball that went for boundary.
After a single in the third, nervy moments came for Nepal when Pradeep Airee played a dot with two to win from two balls. Pradeep then blocked a yorker picking up one and Sharad finished it off with a boundary off the last ball giving a million Nepali hearts across the globe the biggest prize.
“This is the biggest moments in our sporting history,” Paras Khadka told ICC after the victory. “From the time we started playing cricket, World Cup has been our dream. And to finally get it is really a wonderful feeling for us,” said Paras.
Nepal restricted Hong Kong to 143-8 after they won the toss and elected to field first. Subash Khakurel (16) and Sagar Pun gave Nepal a modest start adding 32 runs for the first wicket in 4.3 overs. Sagar made 22 off 18 with three boundaries before losing his wicket in the eighth over with scores reading 54-2.
Gyanendra Malla was looking in a great touch and scored 30 from 27 balls with three boundaries but left in the 14th over after adding 33 runs with Paras. The Nepali skipper made 46 and just as it looked like he was going to take the team across the line, Nepal lost him with 16 to win from nine balls.
Hong Kong might have thought leaving Nepal with 13 to get was getting the match in their grasp but Sharad blitzed once again for a wonderful moment. Paras hit two boundaries in 39 balls that won him man-of-the-match.
Earlier, quick dismissals of in-form opener Irfan Ahmed and skipper Jamie Atkinson helped Nepal control the game. Hong Kong struggled throughout their innings before the last two expensive overs suggested a test for Nepal.
Hong Kong scored 18 runs in the 19th over bowled by Avinash Karn and 11 off the last bowled by Jitendra Mukhiya. Jitendra returned with 3-32 from four overs and Avinash took 2-28 from his four. Nepal will now play Afghanistan in the semi-finals.