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.
They survived a last-over scare to score the required 13 runs, with 10 runs coming from the first two deliveries and a last-ball mis-field 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 places in the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, after Afghanistan and Ireland booked berths 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 will qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
In the first of the day’s two 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 World T20 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 needed 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.”
Hosts UAE qualified alongside Nepal following a 10-run victory over the Netherlands.
The UAE successfully defended a modest total of 117 for eight against the Netherlands thanks to its penetrating bowling attack and accurate fielding.
Skipper Khurram Khan (32) and, Mohammad Shafiq (25) led the way with the bat, with Netherlands’ Ahsan Malik smothering the tail end to claim four wickets for 17 runs.
In reply, the Netherlands was restricted to 107 for nine in 20 overs for the loss of nine wickets.
Requiring 24 for victory off the last two overs, the Netherlands could collect only 13 runs to fall short by 10 runs.
At Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi:
Hong Kong: 143-8, 20 overs (Waqas Barkat 25, Nizakat Khan 25, Tanwir Afzal 25, Munir Dar 20; Jitendra Mukhiya 3-32, Avinash Karn 2-28)
Nepal: 144-5, 20 overs (Paras Khadka 46, Gyanendra Malla 30, Sagar Pun 22)
Nepal won by five wickets
Man of the Match: Paras Khadka (Nepal)
At Abu Dhabi Oval 1, Abu Dhabi
PNG: 145-4, 20 overs (Geraint Jones 36, Tony Ura 34, Jack Vare 30 not out; Bernard Scholtz 2-22, Nicolaas Scholtz 2-24)
Namibia 120 all out: 18.1 overs (Craig Williams 42; Pipi Raho 3-10, Willie Gavera 2-15, John Reva 2-23, Christopher Amini 2-33)
PNG won by 25 runs
Man of the Match: Pipi Raho (PNG)
At Abu Dhabi Oval 2, Abu Dhabi
Italy: 125-8, 20 overs (Andy Northcote 46 not out, Gareth Berg 24; Safyaan Sharif 2-19, Neil Carter 2-26)
Scotland: 126-3, 17.2 overs (Calum MacLeod 56, Richie Berrington 52; Carl Sandri 2-30)
Scotland won by seven wickets
Man of the Match: Calum MacLeod (Scotland)
At Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi - Match 63 (Play Off)
UAE: 117-8, 20 overs (Khurram Khan 32, Mohammad Shafiq 25; Ahsan Malik 4-17)
Netherlands: 107-9, 20 overs (Eric Szwarczynski 23, Ben Cooper 20; Nasir Aziz 3-21)
UAE won by 10 runs
Man of the Match: Shadeep Silva
Image: Nepal's Shakti Gauchan (left) celebrates after taking a wicket during the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers quarter-final against Hong Kong in Abu Dhabi.
Photograph: Graham Crouch-IDI/IDI via Getty Images