In the midst of a storm of turmoil, Hong Kong has come home with a wet sail to put themselves in a strong position to claim the fourth and final playoff spot in Group B of the Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier, with a comprehensive victory over Nigeria.
Nevertheless, on the back of some dogged performances in the field, and the bats of Kinchit Shah (219 runs @ 44) and Nizakat Khan (139 @ 23), Hong Kong won their final three matches on the bounce; slipping past Jersey, breaking Canada’s unbeaten run, and a comprehensive performance against Nigeria today to bring their NRR above Canada, who play UAE tonight.
By chasing down the target of 83 in 7.1 overs, Hong Kong’s net run rate is now 0.48, above Canada but below UAE. Those two teams play each other tonight, and if Oman beat Jersey in this afternoon’s game (or if Jersey wins by fewer than 55), a win for UAE will guarantee Hong Kong fourth spot, and a win for Canada by more than 10 runs or 1.5 overs will see UAE’s NRR drop below HK, giving the Trent Johnston coached team a do-or-die chance for a World Cup spot.
The fourth-placed team in Group B will play in a sudden match on Tuesday at Dubai Stadium against the lose of Play-off 2 (Netherlands* v B2) at 7.30 pm. (*updated after Group A matches were completed)
The winner will secure the sixth and last spot on offer at the 2020 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
After winning the toss, Nigeria was restricted to 81/8 from their 20 overs, despite an opening stand of 30 from 5.4 overs. From there, wickets tumbled including a double of two-in-two balls from Hong Kong, first from skipper Aizaz Khan, and then from leg-spinner Ghazanfar during his first match this event, collecting PTOM for his 2-11.
Nizakat Khan gave the chase the impetus it needed, making 21 from 9 balls. Kinchit Shah (25 from 10), Haroon Arshad (17 from 9) helped close it out swiftly.
A chase completed in under six overs would’ve seen Hong Kong’s NRR go above both that of UAE and Canada’s.