There were comfortable victories for hosts Nepal, the USA and Singapore on the opening day of the World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in Kathmandu on Saturday, with the USA pulling off the outstanding achievement as they annihilated a hapless Fiji.
The Americans' total of 353 for eight at the Engineering Campus was the highest in a WCL match since the UAE posted 412 for four against Argentina in Division 2 at Windhoek in 2007, and their winning margin of 285 runs was also exceeded only by the UAE's 304-run victory in that game.
The innings could scarcely have got off to a worse start when opener Carl Wright was run out attempting a second run off the first legitimate ball of the match, but Orlando Baker (46) and Steven Massiah (74) laid the foundations for a large total with a second-wicket stand of 129 in less than 24 overs.
And when they departed in fairly quick succession, Lennox Cush (50) and Aditya Thyagarajan (39) took over, adding another 84 for the fourth wicket from just 77 deliveries. But if this was an impressive scoring rate it was completely eclipsed by the innings of Rashard Marshall, who took just 28 balls to make 61, plundering the Fijian bowlers for eight fours and four sixes.
Marshall was well supported by Timroy Allen in a stand of 87 from 39 deliveries, Allen contributing 32 off 17 with three fours and two sixes of his own. They departed too successive deliveries from Josefa Dubea, who had been one of the principal victims of their onslaught, and he finished with four for 84 as the Americans went all out to capitalise in the final overs.
Kevin Darlington tore through the Fijian top order when the islanders replied, taking three for 9 in six overs, and with Allen and Cush picking up one each Fiji were in desperate trouble at 38 for five. They managed to recover a little thanks to a dogged innings from Dabea, but with Imran Awan chipping in to take three for 16 they were eventually all out for 68 in 28.2 overs.
At Tribhuvan University, Singapore registered a 126-run victory over Bahrain in a repeat of last September's Division 6 final; since Singapore had also won their round-robin match in that tournament, this win made it three in a row.
Buddika Mendis (39) and Chetan Suryawanshi (54) gave them a great start with an opening stand of 95 after skipper Munish Arora won the toss and elected to bat, and then Munish himself contributed 33 and Riaz Hussien 32 as the Singaporeans went on to reach 224 for eight.
Off-spinner Adil Hanif took three for 40, and there were two wickets each for Zafar Zaheer and Tahir Dar.
The Bahrainis, too, struggled when called upon to chase, Saad Janua (two for 18) and Pramodh Raja (one for 10) quickly reducing them to 18 for three. Adil made 26 and Tahir 21, but with Jackie Manoj Kumar taking three for 15 Bahrain could do no better than 98 all out, losing by 126 runs.
The only side to chase successfully was Nepal, who set up their six-wicket victory at the Army School Ground by dismissing Jersey for 174.
After winning the toss and electing to bat Jersey lost Matthew Hague in the first over, but his opening partner Dean Morrison played a fine hand, anchoring the innings and eventually eighth out in the 43rd over for a 112-ball 62.
He shared a 71-run third-wicket partnership with Sam de la Haye (38) which was the best of the innings, but once de la Haye went the rest of the batting crumbled, only Ryan Driver and Andy Dewhurst reaching double figures.
The Jersey cause was not helped by two run-outs, and the remaining wickets were shared among the Nepali bowlers, Sanjam Regmi and Shakti Gauchan collecting two apiece.
Driver led the fightback when Nepal batted, taking two wickets as the hosts slumped to 29 for two, but a 68-run stand between Gauchan (32) and skipper Paras Khadka set them on the path to victory. Khadka's 66-ball 69, with nine fours and two sixes, was the decisive knock, and by the time he was out only 13 were needed.
Sharad Versawkar, supported by Gyanandra Malla, remained on 33 not out as Nepal made it home with twelve overs to spare.
Their win means that their clash with Singapore on Sunday is likely to be one of the most important, and hard-fought, of the tournament, with a great influence on which two sides will progress to Division 4 later this year.