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Nepal makes cricket history as swimmer Zhang breaks record

By AFP - Sep 27,2023 - Last updated at Sep 27,2023

China’s Zhang Yufei has been in scintiallating form in the pool  (AFP photo)

HANGZHOU, China — A rampant Nepal rewrote the T20 international cricket record books at the Asian Games on Wednesday while China's Zhang Yufei lay down another marker for the Paris Olympics in the swimming pool.

India, meanwhile, enjoyed more success in shooting, winning two golds on the fourth full day of competition in Hangzhou, with Sift Kaur Samra breaking the world record in the women's 50m rifle three positions.

Nepal smashed a series of records on the opening day of the men's cricket competition in a 273-run thumping of bewildered part-timers Mongolia.

Nepal bludgeoned 314-3 in their 20 overs, beating the previous highest T20 men's international innings of 278-3 by Afghanistan against Ireland in 2019.

Teenager Kushal Malla, batting number three, spearheaded the onslaught by crashing the fastest T20 international century off 34 balls.

Among the other records they racked up, Dipendra Singh Airee hit a scarcely believable eight sixes in an unbeaten 52 off 10 balls.

The powerful 23-year-old raced to his fifty off nine balls, another T20 world record and one that should stand in perpetuity because it is mathematically impossible to reach the landmark any quicker.

Nepal's 26 sixes in the innings was also the best ever.

Mongolia, whose women's team were bowled out for just 15 at the Asian Games last week, were dismissed for only 41 in 13.1 overs.

Much sterner tests await for Nepal, with India and Pakistan both in the draw.

Golds are on offer in 14 sports on Wednesday, among them artistic gymnastics, track cycling, eSports, fencing, judo, sailing and skateboarding.

Seven golds will be won later in the day in swimming, one of the most prestigious events at the Games and boasting some of the best swimmers in the world.

There is added intrigue with the 2024 Paris Olympics coming up fast, less than 10 months away.

The hosts have been particularly impressive, topping the podium in 15 of the 20 races at the halfway mark of the six-day swimming event.

Zhang roared into the 100m butterfly final on Wednesday morning with the year's third-fastest time — she also owns the fastest — bolstering her case as hot favourite at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 25-year-old, who has already claimed the 200m fly title in Hangzhou to go with her Olympic gold, surged to the wall in a Games-record 56.20sec.

A 100m butterfly silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, behind Maggie Mac Neil, Zhang turned the tables at the world championships in July by edging the Canadian to win gold.

Rikako Ikee, the standout performer at the last Asian Games, where she won six golds, qualified in seventh.

The Japanese swimmer, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2019, skipped the 100m freestyle on Tuesday with a cold.


Ma Long bows out 


In other sports, table tennis legend Ma Long said he had almost certainly made his last Asian Games appearance after helping the hosts to men's team gold.

The five-time Olympic champion had the perfect finale as his straight-games victory over South Korea's Park Gang-hyeon clinched gold for China and the sixth Asian Games title of his storied career.

The 34-year-old said he would not be competing in the individual events in Hangzhou.

"I will continue to maintain a certain amount of training, but it is different than before and this could well be my last edition of the Asian Games," he said.

Asked about the prospect of defending his Olympic title, Ma said: "Paris is still too early to say for me."

China lead the overall medals table in Hangzhou with 63 golds, far ahead of South Korea (15) and Japan (nine).

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