Hong Kong defeat Nepal by five wickets at Stormont
Hong Kong joined the scramble to qualify from Group A, beating Nepal by five wickets today at Stormont to record their first win of the tournament.
Chasing 110 for victory, Hong Kong deserved their win but made heavy weather of the chase, reaching their target in the last over and not without a few scares along the way.
The Nepalese left-arm spinner Basant Regmi claimed 4 for 16 from his four overs and, had the other Nepalese bowlers performed with the same discipline, had the Nepalese fielders held their chances, things would have been even closer
Indeed, the Nepalese fielding was extremely shoddy, particularly in the sixteenth over - delivered by Sagar Pun - when an easy catch at cover, a difficult chance at deep square-leg, and the simplest of run out chances were spurned.
That was tempered slightly, however, by Pradeep Airee taking perhaps the best catch of the tournament so far, diving full length and grabbing the ball when horizontal in the air, to dismiss Mark Chapman at deep backward square-leg.
As it was, Hong Kong's batsmen were not punished for getting in, then getting out: as they pursued 110, five of them got into double figures but only Nizakat Khan 25 from 18 balls (2 fours, 1 six).
It was left to Babar Hayat (17* from 22) and Aizaz Khan (14* from 7) to calm the nerves with an unbroken and victorious sixth-wicket stand of 21 from only 13 balls.
In the first innings the Nepalese never threatened to set a challenging target. Haseeb Amjad, the Hong Kong right-arm medium-pacer, ran through the Nepalese top order, taking all three wickets to fall in a power play in which only 17 runs were scored.
Aizaz Khan - who had a good all-round match - was the most economical of the Hong Kong bowlers, returning his four overs for just seven runs.
Indeed, the Nepalese progress was painstakingly slow until the last few overs, when consecutive sixes from Rajesh Pulami (25 from 34 deliveries) and then 22 from Tanwir Afzal's last over boosted them to a final total of 109.
Returning for the last over of the innings, Amjad would finish with 4 for 16 from his four overs and deservedly picked up the man-of-the-match award.
Hong Kong have now jumped three places into the last play-off spot (fourth) in Group A, thereby pushing Nepal into fifth.