Unbeaten Hong Kong has become the first team to reach the Super Six stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 in New Zealand after crushing Nepal by 10 wickets in Rangiora.
Bowling first after winning the toss, Hong Kong immediately had Nepal on the ropes as Haseeb Amjad and Tanwir Afzal picked up four wickets within the first six overs to leave their Asian rivals reeling at 4-17. Nepali wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and at 7-61 after 24 overs, the contest appeared all but over. Some rearguard resistance by the lower order help lift Nepal to a total 150 with Basant Regmi the last man to fall after a battling 45. Only three Nepal batsmen could reach double figures. For Hong Kong, Haseeb Amjad was again the best of the Hong Kong bowlers, picking up 4-40 while Irfan Ahmed and Aizaz Khan claimed two wickets apiece.
Hong Kong's reply got away to a positive start with Irfan Ahmed continuing his rich vein of form with the bat while Waqas Barkat, back in his regular opening position, played a solid supporting role. Together they batted sensibly, keeping out the bad balls but punishing anything loose. Irfan brought up his third successive half-century of the tournament off 73 balls and the pair's century partnership followed shortly afterwards off 158 balls. Upon reaching that milestone, both batsmen upped the tempo and Waqas reached his own half-century off 100 balls as Hong Kong raced to victory in the 34th over. Irfan finished unbeaten on 86 from 97 balls including 8 fours and 3 sixes while Waqas finished on 56 not out from 106 balls, including 7 boundaries.
Hong Kong's victory secures their place in the Super Six phase of the tournament, keeping alive their chances of qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.
Scorecard summary: Nepal 150 from 49.3 overs (Regmi Basant 45; Haseeb Amjad 4-40) lost to Hong Kong 154-0 from 33.2 overs (Irfan Ahmed 86*, Waqas Barkat 56*) by 10 wickets [Full Scorecard]