KATHMANDU, Oct 9: Nepal made it to the last four of ACC Trophy Elite being held in United Arab Emirates (UAE) as Group B winner, outplaying Hong Kong by a comprehensive margin of 125 runs in its fourth and last group-stage match, on Tuesday.
Winning the toss and electing to bat first at ICC Global Cricket Academy, Dubai, Nepal scored 225/7 in 50 overs and bowled out Hong Kong for just 100 runs in 37 overs. Nepal´s medium pacer Amrit Bhattarai and spinner Basanta Regmi took three wickets each to seal an easy victory for Nepal.
B Hayat top scored for Hong Kong with 27 off 50 balls, while Tanvir Azfal scored 22. Likewise, Waqas Barkat made 18 and skipper JJ Atkinson scored 11. Besides, no other Hong Kong batsmen could score in double digits.
The win also means Nepal will now face Group A runner up Malaysia in the semi finals on Wednesday, while Group B runner up UAE will take on Group A winner Afghanistan the same day. Despite both Nepal and UAE each having six points from four league matches, Nepal
finished as group B winner on head-to-head win basis.
Earlier, skipper Khadka played a crucial knock of 61 when the team needed runs most. He faced only 54 balls and smashed six fours and two sixes. He again returned to claim two wickets. Shakti Gauchan accounted for the remaining one Hong Kong scalp.
Nepal had a disastrous start, losing Subash Khakurel in the second ball of the innings for duck. Gyanendra Malla (28) and Anil Mandal (37) shared a much-toiled 70 run second wicket partnership off 122 balls to repair the early damage.
After Malla , who blasted a record 18-ball half century in the last match against Saudi Arabia, fell to Nizakat Khan, Khadka came in to bat and helped improve the diminishing run rate.
Other major contributors to Nepali innings include Basanta Regmi (31off 41 balls) and Pradip Airee (25 of 26 balls). Regmi hit three fours while aggressive Airee smacked two fours and one six. Prithu Baskota chipped in with 12 off 15 balls and Sharad Veswakar contributed 14 off 33 balls.
For Hong Kong, Tanvir Afzal , Khan, KC Shah grabbed two wickets apiece. Likewise, Irfan Ahamed took one wicket. Nepal got 12 extra runs.
Tied on four points from three matches, both the teams were in a must-win situation in today´s match to qualify for the next round. In its opening match, Nepal had defeated the UAE by four wickets but lost to Kuwait by four wickets in the second match, despite scoring a huge 280 total, batting first. Nepal beat Saudi Arabia by nine wickets in just 13.1 overs in its last match.