Hong Kong’s young side produced a polished performance with the ball to beat erstwhile high fliers Canada by 32 runs at the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, Hong Kong was in familiar trouble by the end of the power play. Nizakat Khan sliced an attempted lofted square drive high in the air to depart for 7 runs off 9 balls. His worrying form at the top of the order continues. Ahsan Abbasi and Aizaz Khan were sent back to the shed not long after to leave Hong Kong 24/3 in the fourth.
Enter the unflappable Kinchit Shah and the resurgent Waqas Barkat. Both knocked the ball around sensibly against Canada’s trio of probing spinners to take Hong Kong to 63/3 in the eleventh before Barkat misplaced a lofted cover drive to Abraash Khan in the deep. Kinchit continued to guide the innings with the support of Haroon Arshad and Scott McKechnie, as Hong Kong finished on a competitive 150/7 off their twenty overs.
Shah scored his second fifty (59* off 48 balls) of the tournament and s fast becoming the fulcrum of this new-look Hong Kong batting line up.
Off-spinners Nikhil Dutta and Nitish Kumar were particularly hard to get away on a small ICC Academy ground, taking 1/25 and 1/18 respectively.
Canada’s chase never really took off. Their normally explosive top order crawled to 45/3 in the eleventh and not one of Rodrigo Thomas, Navneet Dhaliwal, Nitish Kumar, or Ravinderpal Singh had a strike rate of a hundred to show for their efforts.
A partnership of 32 between Hamza Tariq and Rizwan Cheema carried them to 87/4 in the seventeenth, but at this stage they required 64 runs off 23 balls. As it was, the innings petered out to a final score of 118/9.
Hong Kong’s young bowling attack were relentless from ball one and equally impressive in the field, stifling an order that has become known for its ability to chalk up big totals. Kyle Christie (2/23) and seventeen year old Nasrulla Rana (3/25) finished with impressive figures, as did the veteran off-spinner Ehsan Khan (0/20).
With this win, Hong Kong could yet make the play-offs in fourth place if they beat Nigeria by in their final game, Canada lose their last match against the UAE, Jersey lose to Oman, and run-rates fall in their favor.
It is a big IF. But had you asked the experts at the start of the tournament if Hong Kong would be in the running at the end of the group stage, they would have scoffed at the suggestion.
Head coach Trent Johnston is delighted with the squad’s resilience, taking to Twitter to sing their praises.
Canada for their part followed up with another poor performance against Oman, leaving them in a shootout against the UAE to avoid the heartbreak of missing out when it matters again.