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Match Report - Hong Kong Men's T20I Series - Nepal vs Papua New Guinea

Nepal and PNG into final after convincing wins
By Jay Dansinghani

Fifties from Khushal Bhurtel and Sundeep Jora powered Nepal to 198 for six before the Himalayan nation’s bowlers, led by Bhurtel’s 4-12, skittled Papua New Guinea for 113 to become the first team to make Wednesday’s T20I Series final.

PNG, to their credit, bounced back in the afternoon game against Hong Kong China. They bowled the hosts out for 121 before half-centuries from Tony Ura (51*) and eventual Player-of-the-match Sese Bau (61*) eased the Pacific Islanders into the final, where they will have a chance to settle the score against Nepal.

Hong Kong China, on the other hand, will play the Hong Kong China ‘A’ team in Wednesday morning’s third-place playoff.

Nepal vs PNG

After Nepal were put into bat, they started brightly. Binod Bhandari whipped Noisana Pokana over square leg for six in the very first over before Bhurtel cut John Kariko away for a pair of fours in the next over. The pair kept gathering momentum, taking 16 off the fifth over bowled by Norman Vanua to push the score to 50.

PNG, however, would hit back strongly. Bhandari hit Kariko to Vanua at long off before Pokana and skipper Assad Vala chipped in with the wickets of Rohit Paudel and Aarif Sheikh, respectively, both of whom were caught behind by Kiplin Doriga.

Enter Sundeep Jora.

The aggressive right-hander cleared the ropes four times in his 26-ball 56, taking a particular liking to Sese Bau, who he smashed over long off and long on for back-to-back maximums. Soon after Jora and Bhurtel (59) were dismissed, Bibek Yadav put the finishing touches on the innings, striking three maximums in the final over, which went for 21.

Chasing 199 for victory, Ura and Bau put on 31 for the opening wicket inside the first three overs before Pratis GC bowled the former for 13 from around the wicket. Two balls later, a throw from Gulshan Jha found Bau (21) short of his crease.

Following another partnership of 31, Vala hit Bhurtel straight into the hands of Lokesh Bam at deep mid wicket and Hiri Hiri, who top-scored with 28, hit Pratis to Jha at deep square leg.

Bhurtel would go onto take another three wickets, including Doriga and Vanua who were bowled by straighter deliveries, taking home the Player of the Match award.

Hong Kong China vs Papua New Guinea

Opting to bat first, the powerplay could not have gone much worse for the home side. Martin Coetzee edged Alei Nao through to Doriga before left-armer Kabua Morea bowled Nizakat Khan for 2 with a ball that swung back into the Hong Kong China captain. Anshy Rath chopped an elated Morea onto his stumps in the same over before Nao snared the scalp of in-form Aizaz, who could not trouble the scorers.

Babar Hayat started his innings with a six down the ground, but after a mix up with Yasim Murtaza, found himself run out by Bau for 12. Murtaza was next to go, getting squared up and bowled by an Assad Vala delivery that reduced the home side to 30 for six in the eighth over.

Nasrulla Rana joined Zeeshan Ali at the crease and smashed Kariko for two fours and a towering straight six that sailed toward Argyle Street. After he was stumped down the leg side for 16 off Vala’s bowling, Zeeshan assumed the role of aggressor, ending on an unbeaten 55, his first T20I half-century. He hit six sixes in his innings, three of which were lifted over long on, but ran out of partners as the hosts were eventually bowled out for 121 in the 19th over.

In reply, PNG were never in any trouble. Bau and Ura knocked off the target in the 13th over to seal a dominant ten-wicket win and set up Wednesday’s rematch with Nepal.