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Nepal Register Historic Victory

Nepal achieved a historic 87-run win Saturday against Hong Kong to ensure a spot in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy 2006 at the Kilat Club Ground.

Nepal scored 211/7 in the allotted 50 overs before bowling out Hong Kong for 124 in 43.3 overs – thanks to four wickets from man-of-the-match Dhirendra Chand and

three wickets from Paras Khadka. This is the first time Nepal has defeated Hong Kong in the senior level.

“It’s a very good win,” coach Roy Dias enthused. “The team effort brought us the win. Batsmen did their jobs and pacers did well there after.”

Nepali bowlers were tight in line and length making it hard for Hong Kong batsmen to score. Captain Binod Das removed young Irfan Ahmed for nought off the fifth ball of the second over forcing an early entrance for dangerous old man Rahul Sharma. Mehboob Alam and Binod bowled tight overs to keep him quiet giving away just 32 runs in 10 overs but Dhirendra’s introduction changed the scenario in Nepal’s favor.

Dhirendra bowled the first ball wide and then came the big one – a delivery that stayed a bit low found the edge of Sharma’s bat and went straight to wicket-keeper Mahesh Chhetri who cleanly grabbed the low catch.

Paras Khadka replaced Binod and did a splendid job. He first bowled Khalid Hussain Butt (2) and then trapped captain Tim Smart (34) plumb in front as Hong Kong went down to 50/4 in 16 overs. Sharma, Butt and Smart had scored centuries while Ahmed had got 85 when Hong Kong posted 442 against Myanmar.

Soon, Hong Kong went down to 76/8 in the 25th over – thanks to Paras and Dhirendra who shared seven wickets. It was Haider Afzaal and Nadeem Ahmed who delayed the inevitable by playing as defensive as possible and hitting out at odd balls.

They shared a partnership of 29 runs in 15.3 overs before Shakti Gauchan caught Afzaal at slip off Raj Kumar Pradhan. Raj Kumar also had the last man Khan Khalid leg before to give Nepal the victory in the 44th over.

“We bowled with discipline,” Dias said. “We bowled straight and the seven of the 10 wickets were either caught behind, bowled or lbw.”

Earlier, Hong Kong won the toss and elected to field first in damp conditions. “The toss was vital and it was a good toss to lose,” Dias said. Although Gyanendra Malla (1) was out early in the fifth over, Paresh Lohani and Sarad Vesawkar played patiently against the experienced pace attack. Nepal scored only eight runs in the second five overs and 12 in the next five overs to make it 54/1 by the 15 th over.

Hong Kong pacers troubled Nepali batsmen in the pitch that had uneven bounce. Sarad got 21 off 49 balls before he was smartly caught by Najeeb Amar at second slip. But before that he had added 51 runs with Paresh. The opener used all his experience to score runs in the bowler-friendly pitch. He went on to add 61 runs with Shakti Gauchan before being outdone by Amar’s low-keeping delivery. He scored 45 off 96 balls with six boundaries.

Shakti scored 35 runs off 52 balls hitting three fours and a six. He was bowled by Khalid Hussain Butt. Then quick knocks by Mehboob Alam (17 off 21, a four and a six), Basanta Regmi (29 off 32, two fours) and Mahesh Chhetri (15 off 25 before retiring hurt) took Nepal past 200.

Afzaal was the most successful bowler with three wickets. “I hope to continue winning,” Dias said. “I wasn’t really hoping an easy win.”

Nepal will play Myanmar, the weakest team in the tournament, on Sunday in a match whose result will have no meaning for Nepal. Kuwait and Hong Kong play on the same day to decide the other quarterfinalist from Group ‘C’.


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