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Match Report - Hong Kong Men's T20I Series Friendship Cup - Hong Kong, China vs Nepal

Hong Kong ease to win in Friendship Cup
By Jay Dansinghani

Babar Hayat’s brutal 110 off 49 balls propelled Hong Kong, China to 212 for six, equalling their second-highest T20I total before Aizaz Khan’s 4-26 helped bowl Nepal out for 139 and clinch the Friendship Cup title by 73 runs.

After the home side were put into bat, Martin Coetzee struck Pratis GC for a pair of fours in the second over, including a lofted drive over mid on. Aarif Sheikh got a ball to stop on skipper Nizakat Khan who could only manage to lob an easy catch to Sundeep Jora, getting dismissed for a duck. Martin Coetzee was next to go, getting out for 31 after hitting Akash Chand straight to Pratis at deep square leg.

Walking into bat at 34 for two after five overs, Babar Hayat started with a four singles off his first five balls. Anshuman Rath, meanwhile, pulled two fours into the leg side, before going two better against Bibek Yadav who was deposited into deep mid wicket.

After Rath (39) miscued Pratis (1-29) to Gulshan Jha in the covers, Hayat assumed the mantle of aggressor. He danced down the track to lift Rashid Khan into cow corner. Khan responded by trapping Jamie Atkinson in front for a duck but this seemed to have no effect on Babar, who smashed the same bowler over long off to bring up his 50.

Sagar Dhakal was then pumped over extra cover and long on respectively as Babar marched along. He reached his century with a short arm jab off Chand, which, yet again, sailed over the head of a hapless long on.

Although Chand finished as the pick of Nepal’s bowlers, taking 3 for 27 in his three overs, he couldn’t prevent the hosts from muscling an imposing total.

In reply, Nepal looked to be keeping up with the asking rate, pummelling 104 runs in the first ten overs for the loss of two wickets. This early impetus was largely powered by Binod Bhandari who smashed 42 off 22 balls, receiving support from skipper Rohit Paudel (30) and Aarif Sheikh (38).

However, after Bhandari hit Nasrulla Rana to Hayat in the covers, it allowed the home side to drag back their visitors. Dhananjaya Rao pulled off an impressive diving catch to give Aizaz Khan his first wicket and send Rohit Paudel packing.

Aizaz would take two more wickets in his next over, including the big scalp of Sheikh who mishit him to Coetzee at long on. All in all, Nepal lost their last eight wickets for the addition of a mere 22 runs. Ehsan Khan took 3-26 to support his seam-bowling teammate in triggering a dramatic collapse.