A blistering spell of pace bowling from Haseeb Amjad decimated Nepal's batting order for the second match running to set up a much needed five-wicket win for Hong Kong in Stormont. Haseeb reduced Nepal to 12 for 3 in the fourth over, including the key wickets of Gyanendra Malla and captain Paras Khadka. He finished with 4 for 16 - a Man of the Match effort - as Nepal struggled to 109.
After seeing the way Ireland had razed Nepal for 53 after putting them in to bat, Hong Kong captain Tanwir Afzal chose likewise at the toss, and before long Nepal were under heavy pressure.
Haseeb broke through nine balls into the match, bowling Subash Khakurel, who was playing his first match of the tournament in place of Anil Mandal. Haseeb pitched short of a length on a wicket-to-wicket line and induced an edge behind from Malla for a second-ball duck. Two overs later, he trapped Khadka with a delivery that hit the Nepal captain high on the pads and South African umpire Johan Cloete took a long time before giving the decision.
The pace battery continued to harass Nepal's struggling batting unit: Irfan Ahmed got Sagar Pun to edge behind at the start of the seventh over to make it 17 for 4 and Basant Regmi gave wicketkeeper Jamie Atkinson his third dismissal. Regmi was Aizaz Khan's lone wicket in a miserly spell of 1 for 7; Nepal were 31 for 5 in the 10th.
Rajesh Pulami and Sharad Vesawkar provided some respite for their struggling side with a 41-run stand but both men were caught on the boundary trying to give Nepal a total they could defend. Amjad came back for the final over to nab Sompal Kami before a run-out off the final ball wrapped up the Nepal innings.
Defending 109, Kami removed the dangerous Irfan with the first ball of the second over, and should have had Nizakat Khan for zero two balls later, but a drive to mid-off rocketed through the hands of Jitendra Mukhiya at head height and went all the way to the boundary. Nizakat would go on to top score for Hong Kong with 25.
It was the first of at least four clear chances that Nepal missed in an uncharacteristically sloppy fielding effort, with the lone bright spot being a spectacular diving catch at deep backward square leg by Pradeep Airee to remove Mark Chapman for 9. That was the third of four wickets for Regmi, who produced a valiant spell of left-arm spin to match Hong Kong's Amjad with 4 for 16.
Hong Kong needed 11 with two overs to go but a pair of twos by Aizaz was followed by an elegant drive over extra cover off Shakti Gauchan to put them within one stroke of victory, which they achieved with a single off the first ball of the 19th. Aizaz walked off unbeaten on 14 off seven balls while Babar Hayat ended 17 not out.