CHITTAGONG: Nepal marked their arrival on the international cricket stage with a massive 80-run win over fellow newcomers Hong Kong in a preliminary group match at the World Twenty20 Sunday.
Nepal hammered 149-8 after being sent into bat and then bowled Hong Kong out for just 69 in 17 overs in the day-night match at Chittagong's Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium.
The memorable group A win was set up by skipper Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla, who put on 80 for the third wicket after Nepal were reduced to 36-2 in 5.1 overs.
Khadka hit a 37-ball 41, while Malla made 48 off 41 balls with four boundaries and a six.
Nepal lost four wickets off the last four deliveries of the innings — two of them run out — which denied them a bigger total.
But even the 150-run target proved too stiff for Hong Kong after the inspirational Khadka had opener Irfan Ahmed caught behind with the first ball of the innings.
Hong Kong suffered a dramatic middle order collapse, losing four wickets in eight balls at the same score of 58.
The innings was wrecked by Nepal's two left-arm spinners, with Shakti Gauchan claiming three wickets for nine runs and Basant Regmi taking three for 14.
Babar Hayat top-scored for Hong Kong with 20, but eight batsmen failed to reach double figures against the steady Nepalese attack.
Hosts Bangladesh had thumped Afghanistan by nine wickets in the group A tournament opener in Dhaka earlier on Sunday.
Nepal and Hong Kong are among six qualifiers — the others being Ireland, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands — who joined Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the two-group preliminary league.
The two group winners will then contest the Super-10 round with the top eight Test nations — Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, England, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies — from March 21.
The final is on April 6 in Dhaka.
Nepal 149-8 (Paras Khadka 41, Gyanendra Malla 48, Haseeb Amjad 3-25, Nadeem Ahmed 2-26)
Hong Kong 69 all out in 17 overs (Babar Hayat 20, Shakti Gauchan 3-9, Basant Regmi 3-14) – REUTERS