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Nepal qualifies for its maiden ICC World Twenty20

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Nepal made history when it qualified for its maiden major ICC event on Wednesday, progressing to the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 by virtue of a five wickets victory over Hong Kong in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Nepal survived a last-over scare to score the required 13 runs, with 10 runs coming from the first two deliveries and a last-ball misfield producing the winning runs.

Also joining Nepal in the event proper was the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which successfully defended a modest score of 118 runs to upset the Netherlands by 10 runs. This will be the first time since the ICC Cricket World Cup 1996 that the UAE will make an appearance on the global stage.

The results from Wednesday’s matches mean four sides have now sealed their places in the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, after Afghanistan and Ireland booked their seats on Monday.

In the other matches of the day, Papua New Guinea (PNG) defeated Namibia by 25 runs and Scotland beat Italy by seven wickets. These two winners, as well as Hong Kong and the Netherlands, will now have a second chance to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 when they clash in cross-over matches on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Hong Kong will go head-to-head with Papua New Guinea (PNG), while, in the afternoon match, Scotland will take on the Netherlands. The winners of both the matches, which will be televised live by ICC’s broadcast partner STAR Sports, will qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.

In the first of the day’s two broadcast matches from Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Nepal showed nerves of steel in a game that came down to the wire to become the third team to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, recording a nail-biting five-wicket victory over Hong Kong.

Chasing 144 runs for victory, Nepal captain Paras Khadka (46) again steered his side’s innings, with Gyanendra Malla adding 30 from 27 balls and Sagar Pun contributing 22 off 19 balls.  Nepal was always behind the required run-rate, however, and it was not until the 19th over that the side upped the ante, scoring 13 off the penultimate over to leave a further 13 runs from the final six balls.

Sharad Vesawkar scored 10 runs from the first two deliveries while the winning run was scored off the final ball of the match, and that too through a misfield.

Earlier, Hong Kong posted 143 runs from its 20 overs, with Waqas Barkat, Nizakat Khan and Tanwir Afzal all scoring 25 runs apiece and Munir Dar chipping in with 20.

Wickets were shared between Jitendra Mukhiya (three for 32) and Avinash Karn (two for 28).

A thrilled Nepal captain Paras Khadka said: “This is the biggest moment of our lives.  Our childhood dreams have come true. I think the boys have worked really hard for this and been pushing it in the World Cricket League and the twenty20 format.  I think when it mattered, everyone contributed, and I am really glad we have qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.”

Reflecting on the dramatic victory, Khadka said: “That’s cricket for you.  You can never take things for granted. You have to win it as soon as you can.  In the end, it really doesn’t matter if it’s on the last ball or any ball.”

“The tournament is still not over. We are now in the semi-finals and most likely to play Afghanistan. So, it’s about time that we give them what they’ve been giving us all these years.”

Speaking on the do-or-die encounter, Hong Kong batsman Mark Chapman said: “We’ll take nothing away from our boys today as gave everything. It was just unfortunate but a great game of cricket.”