Nepal 144 for 5 (Khadka 46, Malla 30) beat Hong Kong 143 for 8 (Mukhiya 3-32, Karn 2-28) by five wickets
Sharad Vesawkar once again showed that he thrives under extreme pressure as his hard hitting skills and nerves of steel helped Nepal chase 144 run target set by Hong Kong in a match that went till the last ball.With the win Nepal joined Afghanistan and Ireland, becoming the third team to qualify for ICC T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
After getting into a mix up that resulted in Paras Khadka’s run out in the penultimate over, Vesawkar took the responsibility and added the remaining 16 runs with newbie Pradeep Airee. Nepal went into the final over needing 13 to win and Vesawkar eased things off immediately hitting Haseeb Amjad for six off the first ball. That was the only six off the match for Nepal. A little luck the next as an inside edge that could have as easily knocked the stumps off went for a four through fine leg.
With scores level Vesawkar was back on strike for the final delivery. He pierced through the packed off side field driving through extra cover for the most significant single of Nepalese Cricketing history-the single that took Nepal to the World Cup.
Vesawkar remained not out on 13 off just 7 balls while Airee made 3 from 4 balls.
Before getting run out Paras Khadka had made 46 of 39 balls, an innings that played so cautiously that he hit only 2 Fours. With 26 needed of the last two overs he scored 9 in Nadeem Ahmed’s 3 balls before he got run out. Khadka who also took in the first innings with his right arm spin was adjudged the player of the match.
Chasing 144 Nepal had got off to a steady start in its chase with a 32-run opening stand between Sagar Pun and Subash Khakurel, the wicketkeeper. Gyanendra Malla chipped in with an innings of 30 from 27 balls after Afzal castled Khakurel for 16 in the fifth over. Malla was out in the Aziaz Khan’s first ball caught on the boundary trying to hit a six.
The boundries very hard to come by for Nepalese batsman and the entire innings saw 11 fours and a six. With the extended ropes in the field Nepali batsman did not seem to have the power or the timing to reach the boundary.
Earlier, Hong Kong lost its first wicket in the second over, with Irfan Ahmed falling to Jitendra Mukhiya, the medium-pacer, for 8. Avinash Karn then struck after three overs to remove Jamie Atkinson, the Hong Kong captain, to leave the side struggling at 25 for 2 in 4.1 overs. Waqas Barkat and Nizakat Khan scored 25 runs each as Mukhia and Karn continued troubling the batsmen with disciplined bowling. Late cameos from Munir Dar (20) and Tanwir Afzal (25) took Hong Kong to 143 for 8 in its 20 overs.
With the win Nepal have also made it to the semi final of the tournament where they will face Afghanistan