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ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the clash between Hong Kong and Nepal
March 16, 2014
It was a night of big debuts and, of course, there would be nerves. Performing at a global tournament can be demanding, anxiety was inevitable. But the Nepal fans thronging the upper tier on one side of the sparsely populated Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium nailed it first time. Much has been heard of the Nepali support (and it difficult to not hear them) but this was a special moment, in front of the TV cameras, and they didn't disappoint. In the first over, a huge cheer greeted a silky on-drive for four from Subash Khakurel; a few balls later, a roar just as big met Sagar Pun's squeezed single to backward point. For a Nepali fan, it was all good.
Nepal's openers signalled their intentions with a calculated assault, making use of the Powerplay fielding restrictions. Khakurel struck a couple of drives down the ground, showing his willingness to come forwards but when Tanwir Afzal dropped short, he swayed comfortably inside to thrash a pull shot through square. It was not the classiest stroke of the night but, in terms of pure aggression, it spoke volumes.
Najeeb Amar suffered at the hands of Paras Khadka - or rather at the hands of his fielders. With Khadka on 20, Najeeb lured him into an ill-judged chip down the ground, straight to Tanwir at long-on. Afzal steadied himself, waited and let it straight through his hands. Five overs later, with Khadka gliding towards fifty, Babar Hayat could not take a more difficult chance over his head running back from cover. The next ball, perhaps just to test his luck, Khadka picked out Nizakat Khan in the same place on the boundary as Tanwir. This time he clasped it, to Najeeb's evident relief.
From the first ball of the final over in Nepal's innings, Gyanendra Malla smoked Haseeb into the advertising boards at long-on. A miscued pull shot for two next ball took him to the brink of a half-century but, to the disappointment of most within the stadium, he top-edged a similar shot to be caught and bowled. Then the fun really started. Sharad Vesawkar was run out going for a second, Naresh Budayair tried to scoop a yorker and lost his off stump and Haseeb Amjad made it four in four by throwing down the stumps off the final delivery. It was as close as Hong Kong got to silencing the Nepal support all night.
Khadka, surprisingly tall and muscular in person, usually bowls right-arm medium pace but here he opened the bowling with a couple of overs of offspin. With his first ball, he took a wicket. An elegant action that extracted just a touch of extra bounce hinted that this was more than just a bit of mischief-making. Apparently he has been working on his legbreak, too. It seems there are no limits to what Nepal's poised, articulate captain can do.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
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