Nepal facing PNG at tri-series final

Kathmandu, Mar. 13: Papua New Guinea (PNG) fixed its spot in final match of the tri-series against Nepal by defeating host Hong Kong in the second match of Tuesday. 

PNG, losing to Nepal in the first match of the day, bounced back with a quality cricket against Hong Kong. 

While Nepal defeated PNG by 85 runs, PNG defeated Hong Kong by 10 wickets. With the three teams facing each other once in the single round-robin format, Nepal and PNG, with one win each, advanced to the final.

Nepal and Hong Kong shared points on Sunday as the match was abandoned due to rain. Thus, the two matches – PNG vs Nepal and PNG vs Hong Kong – on Tuesday decided on the two teams advancing to the final on March 13. 

Nevertheless, as per the previously fixed schedule of the tri-series, Hong Kong will face its ‘A’ team for 3rd place before the final match. 

Nepal lost to Hong Kong by 73 runs in the ‘Friendship Cup’, a one-day friendly T20, before the tri-series on March 9. 

And the way Hong Kong was performing in the first match of the tri-series against Nepal before rain interruption, concerns were raised on the team comprising mostly of players with less experience.

However, the team made a comeback against PNG. While Hong Kong ranks 21st in ICC T20 team ranking, PNG ranks 19th. Meanwhile, Nepal is in 16th position.

Bhurtel shines 

Openers Kushal Bhurtel and Binod Bhandari gave a steady start for Nepal as PNG elected to field first. When Bhandari (27 off 22) departed as the first wicket, Nepal was 64/1 in 7.3 overs. 

Bhurtel, on the other hand, partnered with three more batsmen – Rohit Kumar Paudel, Aarif Sheikh and Sundeep Jora – before departing in the 15th over. Bhurtel scored 59 off 39 with four fours and four sixes. He also completed 1000 runs in T20I with his 8th fifty.

While Paudel (1 off 4) and Sheikh (4 off 7) departed for a paltry, Jora registered the second half-century of the match for Nepal. Jora scored 56 off 26 with three fours and four sixes and took the team to 160 before departing in 17.5 overs.

Scoring in double figures, Gulshan Jha (15 off 12), Lokesh Bam (14 off 6) and Bibek Yadav (19 off 4) took Nepal to 198/6 by the end of 20 overs.

Assad Vala bagged two wickets against Nepal while Nosaina Pokana, John Kariko and Norman Vanua took one each.

After giving his all with the bat, Bhurtel shined brighter with the ball as he produced his career-best four-wicket haul to bundle out PNG at 113 runs in 16.1 overs. 

PNG skipper Assad (9 off 11), Lega Siaka (5 off 9), Norman (0 off 1) and Kiplin Dorigan (8 off 10) were Bhurtel’s victims. Pratish GC also took two wickets for Nepal while Aakash Chand and Gulshan Jha bagged one each respectively.

Hiri Hiri was PNG’s highest scorer with 28 off 19 followed by openers Sese Bau (21 off 13) and Tony Ura (13 off 6). 

PNG bounces against HK 

Hong Kong has been batting furiously on the home turf. However, against PNG, the team failed. Electing to bat first, Hong Kong was bundled out at 121 runs in 18.3 overs. Kabua Morea, Alei Nao, Assad and Sese bagged two wickets each for PNG. 

Compared to the squad against Nepal, PNG replaced Charles Amini, Norman Vanua, Nosaina Pokana and Jack Gardener with Kabua, Alei, Hila Vare and Chad Soper.

Chasing the low target of 122, PNG openers – Tony (51 off 33) and Sese (61 off 43) – scored 124 in 12.4 overs to win the match.

Both the openers cross the 50-run mark individually to win the match for PNG by 10 wickets.

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