UAE 118/2 (Shahzad 54, Suri 44*, Christie 2-24) defeated Hong Kong 116/7 (Nizakat 31, Kinchit 30, Mustafa 2-17) by 8 wickets with 29 balls remaining.
Hong Kong’s campaign went from bad to worse as The UAE, led by Player of the Match Rameez Shahzad and opener Chirag Suri, made short work of a target of 117.
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong’s openers got off to a circumspect yet solid start reaching 35 at the end of the power play without losing a wicket.
Just as it seemed like the visitors were building a platform to launch, Ahmed Raza got one to hold in the wicket, gleefully accepting a return catch to get rid of Ahsan Abassi for 18.
With Kinchit and Nizakat at the crease Hong Kong would have been hoping to register a score that would test a depleted UAE batting line-up. However, just as they were building some momentum, Nizakat played all round a Waheed Ahmad off cutter, losing his off stump in the process.
Skipper Aizaz Khan—batting up the order once again to cope with the absence of several key batsmen—could not find the boundary in a frenetic 18-ball innings, despite running at the speed of light on the way to 19. He eventually holed out to deep mid wicket in the 16th over with the score on 93.
Subsequent batsmen continued to struggle with a sluggish wicket and long boundaries as the deadly accurate Rohan Mustafa suffocated Hong Kong with a spell of 4-0-17-2. Hong Kong could not manage to clear the ropes even once throughout an attritional batting display.
UAE, in contrast, looked comfortable throughout their chase despite a rapid spell of bowling from Kyle Christie, who got rid of the in-form Mustafa for 10.
Rameez Shahzad and Chirag Suri then saw off the next few overs before they started finding—and even clearing—the ropes with ease. By the time the former was dismissed for a bruising 54 off 37, UAE were 113/2 and just a stone’s throw away from a convincing victory, which Chirag Suri sealed with an elegant drive against the spin and through the covers off Ehsan Khan.
Despite moving up to the top of the table with another two points, UAE’s triumph was overshadowed by news of regular opener Ashfaq Ahmed being provisionally suspended for his suspected role in the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the hosts. Unlike the trio of Mohammad Naveed, Qadeer Ahmed, and Shaiman Anwar, Ashfaq is yet to be charged under ICC’s anti-corruption code.