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Second to none

Euphoric Hong Kong shock Bangladesh

Hong Kong beat Bangladesh, one of the top 10 teams in international cricket, in the opening phase of the World T20 tournament to record a major upset in the southeastern Bangladeshi city of Chittagong. fter bowling Bangladesh out for 108 in 16.3 overs, Hong Kong dragged itself to victory with just two balls remaining in its innings as No. 9 batsman Haseeb Amjad hit a six in the final over to seal the biggest win in Hong Kong’s history. Before Thursday’s match, Hong Kong had never beaten any of the 16 teams taking part in the World T20, ever. It had never even qualified for a major tournament before.

In its first two matches, Hong Kong fell to Nepal, another so-called minnow of world cricket, and Afghanistan. Only a wild optimist would give the team any hope against Bangladesh, the host of the tournament and a Test-cricket playing nation.

Nepal's shine at biggest league

Nepal shocked the world by defeating Afghanistan in the ICC World T20 encounter. Nepal finished second in the group with four points but missed out on the final place to Bangladesh owing to net run-rate. Earlier, Nepal beat Hong Kong in their first ever international match by an impressive 80 runs.

To add to the celebration in the Himalayan nation of 29 million, it happened in the middle of Holi, the Hindu festival of colours.

Crowds cheered at outdoor screening venues across the capital, Kathmandu, every time Nepal made a run, or when Hong Kong’s wickets fell. Many in the country lack electricity in their homes - Nepal faces 12 hours of power cuts every day - so public gathering points are particularly popular.

“Our boys were hungry,” said Nepal’s 26-year-old captain, Paras Khadka, explaining the victory. Nepal’s performance has been one of the most powerful endorsements of the ICC’s decision to expand the competition. Nepal have their way up the ladder in a determined, hard-working fashion that has won the hearts of the viewers of the tournament. It may also be the first major step for Nepal cricket towards their ascent among the big guns.

Afghan out after spirited show

Afghanistan had come into the tournament hoping to upset a top-level side or two but they will depart knowing that the competition around them has increased. Afghanistan finished third in Group A and missed out on final spot in the ICC World T20.  They lost to Nepal by nine runs and lost heavily in the opening match against Bangladesh. Their only win came against Hong Kong.

Afghanistan recently beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup which was their first ever victory against a top Test nation. It has been a remarkable journey for Afghanistan who were playing in the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in 2008. In 2010, they qualified for the World Twenty20 held in West Indies in 2010 by winning the World Twenty20 Qualifier against UAE 2010.

Afghanistan finished runners-up a second time to Ireland at the qualifying event in 2013 to make it to this year’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

Gritty Ireland go down fighting

Ireland kept their heads high in staying put in second place behind Zimbabwe before going down to a ferocious Netherlands batting in the final match.

Ireland could have made the next stage of the World Cup by beating the Dutch but failed to stop the Dutch. Ireland beat Zimbabwe in a Group B encounter when opener Paul Stirling smashed 60 off 34 balls to set Ireland up for a last-ball victory over Zimbabwe in their first-round match in the World Twenty20.

They sent debutants United Arab Emirates crashing out from the tournament in the second match by D/L method. Ireland has seen success earlier in ICC World Cups in 2007 and 2011. Ireland’s performance in their inaugural World Cup in the 2007 tournament took many pundits by surprise. They stunned Pakistan in the Group stages and qualified for the super eight and beat Bangladesh there.

In the 2011 cricket World Cup, Ireland beat England by 3 wickets on 2 March 2011 at the World Cup with Kevin O’Brien hitting the fastest World Cup century off only 50 balls to stun the world.

UAE comes of age

UAE came as the weakest side in the T20 WOrld Cup and by no surprise they lost all the three matches in their respective Group B. They lost the opener against Netherlands and then lost to Zimbabwe and Ireland.

 One of the emerging ODI teams, the UAE won the ACC Trophy on four consecutive occasions between 2000 and 2006, and were runners-up in the other three times the tournament has been played in 1996, 1998 and 2008. They played their first One Day Internationals that year. They played in 1996 Cricket World Cup.

Dutch Delight

Netherlands entered the tournament hoping to put themselves safely in the main round. The Dutch beat newcomers UAE easily and then lost to Zimbabwe. But an amazing batting display against Ireland in the final match saw them qualify in expense of the other two.

Set a mammoth 189 for four, Netherlands needed to chase down the target in 14.2 overs to qualify for the Super-10 but the Dutchman managed to overwhelm the score in 13.5 overs, eventually finishing on 193 for four, thanks to Myburgh’s 63 in 23 balls, Cooper’s 45 in 15 and Baressi’s 40 in 22. It was one of the best ever chases in the history of cricket and that coming from a small side makes it all the more amazing. ‘We didn’t have much to lose and we were not happy with our bowling. The Irish boys pretty well to score 190. We had plenty of guys who could hit well, and it all came off today. The boys are really happy. Sad for Ireland, who played very well for 2.5 games. I got out there and had a little bit of go, but it was Myburgh who set the scene,’ Dutch skipper Peter Borren said.

- With agency inputs
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