Nepal have won their first ever match at a World Cup after beating Hong Kong by 80 runs today in Chittagong.
Put into bat by Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson on what had to be one of the greenest pitches ever seen at a World Cup, Nepal got off to a flying start with an opening partnership of 36 between Subash Khakurel and Sagar Pun.
Both were removed in quick succession, and Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla attempted to rebuild the innings. Khadka survived being dropped in the deep by Tanwir Afzal when he was on 20, a drop that proved to be costly.
Khadka went on to score 41 before he was caught in the deep by Nizakat Khan, having been dropped by Babar Hayat the previous delivery. He and Malla had put on 80 for the third wicket.
Malla himself scored 48 before he skied one and was caught by Haseeb Amjad off his own bowling from the third ball of the final over. Sharad Vesawkar was run out from the next ball, and Amjad sent Naresh Budayair’s leg stump cartwheeling from the penultimate ball.
Shakti Gauchan was run out from the final ball, and Hong Kong had taken four wickets in four balls, ensuring that Nepal fell one short of 150. It was Haseeb Amjad who was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers with 3-25.
Hong Kong’s reply got off to the worst possible start when Irfan Ahmed, so often dangerous at the top of the order, was bowled from the first ball by Paras Khadka. With Atkinson chopping the ball onto his stumps after scoring six in the next over, Hong Kong were in serious trouble.
Babar Hayat and Waqas Barkat were looking well set after putting on 31 for the third wicket before Barkat sent a simple catch the way of the deep extra cover fielder. Nepal kept the brakes on the Hong Kong innings from then on, and just as Mark Chapman was looking well set in the 11th over, he was bowled by Basant Regmi for 13.
Nizakat Khan was then bowled first ball, and Tanwir Afzal was able to keep out the hat-trick ball. Babar Hayat and Aizaz Khan were then bowled by Shakti Gauchan in the next over, and Hong Kong were well out of the running having lost four wickets for no runs in eight balls.
Four for no runs became five for two and six for four as Hong Kong collapsed against the Nepalese slow bowlers. They were eventually bowled out for 80, losing their last seven wickets for just 11 runs. Basanta Regmi and Shakti Gauchan bowled superbly for Nepal, taking 3-14 and 3-9 respectively.
An excellent win for Nepal on their bow in an ICC world cup tournament, and they now top group A ahead of Bangladesh. Those two teams will now face each other on Tuesday, with Nepal’s legion of fans hoping for an upset that could see Nepal reach the Super 10 stage.