KATHMANDU, March 13: Nepal started the ICC World T20 Qualifiers campaign with a 28-run win over Hong Kong on Tuesday as skipper Paras Khadka scored a blistering 68 runs off 62 balls and Chandra Saud made a memorable national team debut with a four-wicket haul.
Electing to bat first at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground in Dubai, Nepal scored 130/6 in 20 overs and restricted Hong Kong to 102/9 in 20 overs.
Nepal lost opener Pradeep Airee (naught) in the third ball of the innings and Sharad Vesawkar (2 runs) was also bowled by Munir Dar. Opener Paresh Lohani returned to the pavilion when the team was languishing at 38 runs.
Skipper Khadka and his deputy Gyanendra Malla shared a 56-run partnership off 47 balls for the fourth wicket. Malla, who got the wicket-keeping duty in the national team for the first time, scored 26 runs of 24 balls. He hit two boundaries and a six. Mehboob Alam added 13 runs. Basanta Regmi (2 runs) and Prithu Baskota (0) remained unbeaten.
Man-of-the-match Paras Khadka played a confident innings and hit seven boundaries. He was stumped by Waqas Barkat off Munir Dar.
Dar was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers as he took three wickets.
Chasing the 131-run target on the slow wicket of the UAE, Hong Kong was stunned by Nepali pacer Saud.
Saud dismissed Irfan Ahmed, who has a reputation of a big hitter, in the second ball of the innings. Shakti Gauchan then removed James Atkinson (14 runs) in the second over.
Then, Saud removed Munir Dar (0), opener Babar Hayat (2) and Courtney Kruger (2) to keep Hong Kong under pressure. After the fine spell of Saud and Gauchan, Hong Kong was at 28/5 in 4.5 overs. Dar was adjudged the man-of-the series of the ACC T20 Cup held in Kathmandu last December for his 202 runs and taken 11 wickets.