Hong Kong cricket team and Nepal cricket team are both in a do-or-die situation going into their final Group B match at the ICCWorld Cup qualifiers 2018 in Bulawayo on Monday.
The pair ran superbly between the wickets and put pressure on the Hong Kong fielders. Only two teams from the Super Six stage will qualify for next year's ICC World Cup.
Not for the first time, off-spinner Sikandar Raza was perhaps the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers, his three wickets costing just 30 from his 10 overs as Hong Kong's run rate never looked like reaching the level necessary to mount a realistic challenge.
However, Nepal lost three quick wickets and teetering at 61-4 in 18th over.
Openers Gyanendra Mall and wicket keeper Anil Kumar Sah combined for 41 runs for the opening partnership before Sah for for 26 runs in 9.5 overs. Man of the Match Roshit Kumar Paudel finshied the match in style with a crunching drive for four runs on 40.4 overs.
Nepal, however, failed to enter the Super Six after finishing fourth in their group.
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Paudel played the anchor role with an impressive 48 not out from 86 balls while Sompal, who earlier took the vital wicket of Hong Kong skipper Babar Hayat, took only 40 balls to make an unbeaten 37.
Hong Kong's Aizaz Khan and Ehsan Khan took two Nepali scalps each while Tanwir Afzal chipped in with a wicket.
Zimbabwe were unable to find the late impetus with a flurry of wickets hurting their chances, and they eventually finished with a much smaller total than they might have hoped for. If Nepal beats PNG and Hong Kong beats Netherlands, Nepal and Hong Kong play for 7th place and the prized ODI status. The Ehsans - Khan and Nawaz - frustrated Nepal towards the end before Karan KC rounded things off.
Earlier in the match, Nepal kept taking wickets at regular intervals, not allowing any batsmen to settle.
Sandeep Lamichhane starred for Nepal yet again, with exceptional figures 10-4-17-3. For Afghanistan, who had just one victory against Nepal from four matches, it was even simpler: Nepal beat Hong and they are through.
Nepal's five-wicket victory over Hong Kong in Bulawayo made Nepal and Afghanistan happier and Hong Kong sadder. If Nepal beat PNG and Netherlands beats Hong Kong, Nepal get the ODI status.
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