World T20 Results: Fairy Tale Debut as Spinners Guide Nepal to Big Win over Hong Kong
By Shruthi SU | March 17, 2014 5:07 AM EST
Here's presenting to you the Nepal cricket team, the latest addition to the big pool of international cricket - just the way captain Paras Khadka had promised. To call it an incredible journey is probably to underrate their potential - that's the kind of impact they've already had with an impressive 80-run win over Hong Kong.
The only thing Hong Kong won tonight was the toss as they put their opposition in to bat. They were outplayed in all the departments by Nepal after that. Their batting was the biggest disappointment of them all, not able to stand ground and get the much-needed partnerships going.
The stadium hardly had any seats filled but of whatever was taken, they were waving the Nepal national flag.
With crowd support and their own cricketing credentials, there was hardly any pressure when Nepal stepped in to bowl as they had set more than a decent target of 150 for Hong Kong to chase down. The captain Khadka bowled the first delivery for Nepal in the tournament and got a wicket off it. Sompal Kami, the youngest player of the tournament, forced an inside edge of Jamie Atkinson - the Hong Kong captain's bat. Waqas Barkar, the other opener was trying to pull things together and while in the 7th over, Shakti Gauchan came out for his first over and picked up an easy wicket. And so the story continued. Gauchan went on to pick up two more wickets giving away only nine runs to be awarded the man-of-the-match as Hong Kong struggled.
The pitch report had nothing for the spinners, and it didn't turn or bounce but the two left armers - Shakti and Basant Regmi - kept picking wickets - sharing six wickets between them. Regmi picked up two wickets in two consecutive deliveries in the 11th over. When Hong Kong were on 58, they lost five wickets by the time they added two more runs to the scoreboard. There were celebrations in Chittagong and there sure would have been more celebrations back home in Nepal.
Hong Kong were on the back foot right from the beginning giving room to the Nepal batsmen to hit freely. The batters had made up their mind to bat fearlessly. When the openers were gone trying to hit the big shots, it was in Gyanendra Malla and skipper Khadka's hands to either make or break the innings. They decided on the former and started to build a partnership. Together, they set a record third-wicket partnership in T20 cricket. The captain fell in the 17th over - setting the innings - with only nine runs short of a half century.
This format, that dedicates a special column for the number of sixes hit, saw the first six come in the first ball of the last over in the Nepal innings. With wickets in hand and room for risk, targetting a score past 150 became obvious. And trying to get there, four batsmen fell off the last over setting a total of 149. And Hong Kong fell way short of it in the innings that followed, bowled out for just 69 in 17 overs.
Hong Kong had come to the match with a win over Zimbabwe and Netherlands in the warm-up matches while Nepal had lost both of their warm-ups. If this is any indication of how they are going to perform in the rest of the series, there's a serious threat that Nepal pose to other teams. Losing both the warm-up matches, and winning the one that counts, Nepal will be hoping this to be the start of even better things to follow.
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