Afghanistan kept their hopes of making it to the 2019 World Cup alive by getting through to the Super Six stage of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Bulawayo on Monday (March 12) after Nepal beat Hong Kong by five wickets. In the other Group B match, Zimbabwe ensured they finished at the top of the table after their final group encounter with Scotland ended in a thrilling tie.
Zimbabwe and Scotland both finished on seven points from three wins but the hosts finished ahead on a better net run-rate.
Hong Kong’s qualification hopes went down the drain after a batting collapse saw them set a low target of 154 that Nepal chased down with 9.4 overs to spare.
Hong Kong seemed like they could sneak their way into the Super Sixes when Nepal fell to 66 for 5, but Rohit Kumar and Sompal Karni steered their team home with unbeaten knocks of 48 and 37 respectively.
Batting first, Nizakat Khan (47) and Babar Hayat (20) managed to set a good foundation after Christpher Carter had fallen early, but a subsequent collapse saw Hong Kong lose three wickets for five runs, going from 53 for 1 to 58 for 4. Nizakat was still there but another collapse saw Hong Kong go from 106 for 5 to 110 for 8. Ehsan Khan made 21 runs from No.9, pushing the total past 150 before Hong Kong were all out for 153 in 48.2 overs.
Sandeep Lamichhane picked up 3 for 17 while Basant Regmi and Karan KC took two wickets apiece.
Aizaz Khan gave Hong Kong hope with two early wickets in Nepal’s chase but Rohit and Sompal combined to put on an unbeaten 89-run stand to bring up victory in 40.4 overs.
With their first win in the tournament, Nepal finished in fourth place in Group B, ahead of Hong Kong on net run-rate.
Sayaan Sharif’s 5 for 33 was the highlight in a thrilling tie as both Scotland and Zimbabwe finished on 210 all out in Bulawayo.
Batting first, Zimbabwe were bowled out in 46.4 overs, with Craig Ervine (57 off 69) and Brendan Taylor (44 off 54) the main contributors. Zimbabwe were on target for a bigger total in the first half of their innings, with good partnerships between Solomon Mire (35) and Taylor, and then Ervine and Taylor.
However, Sharif and Michael Leask (4 for 37) then took a flurry of wickets as Zimbabwe couldn’t build on their good foundation.
In reply, Scotland lost wickets early to be 69 for 4, with Kyle Coetzer, the captain, also having fallen for 39. It needed Richie Berrington’s 47 from No.5 to get the chase back on track, as he put on 76 runs with George Munsey for the fifth wicket.
But when both fell within a short space of time to Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe were back in the game. Cremer would go on to end with 3 for 23 in ten overs, while Tendai Chisoro took 3 for 42, also having bowled his full quota.
Leask continued his good day with an unbeaten 28 at a run-a-ball, but could only watch from the non-striker’s end as Scotland lost their last two wickets with victory in sight, bowled out in 49.1 overs, ensuring that both teams ended up with one point each.