Group B Hong Kong 144/7 (Nizakat 46, McKechnie 40*, Ward 3-19) defeated Jersey 136/6 (Stevens 39, Bisson 30, Ehsan 2-18 ) by 8 runs.
Four years ago, and only one wicket down, Jersey chased a target of 154 in the 18th over to hand to defeat Hong Kong in each team’s first tie of the 2015 T20 World Cup Qualifier. They haven’t played each other since.
On another steamy Abu Dhabi night from this Group B, an embattled Hong Kong team managed their first points, when they beat Jersey by 8 runs in a thriller, thanks to the bats of Nizakat Khan, Scott McKechnie & Waqas Barkat – and another disciplined bowling performance.
Defending 144/7, skipper Aizaz Khan maintained a policy of rotating his bowlers, even taking off Kinchit after he took two wickets in the second over.
It all came down to the last over with Jersey requiring 15, but the skipper mixed his pace well and Bisson wasn’t able to connect properly to any attempt and Hong Kong got home by eight runs. Their first win in eight T20 Internationals.
Earlier in the evening, Hong Kong’s time with the bat in hand was most definitely a show of three different parts.
Nizakat Khan was dropped from the first ball of the match by Jonty Jenner when a steepler went through his very-low hands, allowing Khan to complete two. From the next three balls; a swept boundary, a four sliced over point, and then a towering six over the head of Jenner. In the preceding three matches teams aimed in at the stumps to not let Nizakat free his arms to unleash his array of drives and cuts. Jersey, perhaps in a panic after that first over, employed no such plan.
Barely giving his opening partner Ahsan Abbasi any time on strike, Nizakat continued to attack, playing two tracer-bullet like drives in the fourth and fifth over. Abbasi then managed to slice a half tracker from Ben Steven’ first delivery into the waiting hands of Elliot Miles who took a smart catch diving forward. Hong Kong finished the powerplay at 51/1, their best of the qualifier.
16 year old Aarush Bhagwat came and went quickly, but Hong Kong was able to keep the rate ticking along, albeit rather dangerously after Kinchit entered the fray at number four like a man possessed, swinging at practically every ball bowled to him. With two deliveries left in the tenth over, Nizkat tried to smear a short quicker ball from Bed Ward over mid on, but he only managed to float a catch to Stevens at short cover. From there, an all too familiar Hong Kong collapse ensued. Another boundary would not be hit for eight long overs.
Aizaz Khan inexplicably missed a half tracker from Nick Greenwood’s first over of the event and then Kinchit Shah hit an innocuous Chuggy Perchard down cow corner’s throat. Once Simandeep Singh was clean bowled after he misread a googly from Ward, Hong Kong were 81 for 5 wickets down in the 12th over.
Singh’s departure brought Scott McKechnie to the crease to join ex-teammate (and former direct report when both worked together) at Kowloon Cricket Cub, Waqas Barkat.
These two completed a little gem of what turned out to be a match-turning partnership, starting slowly by picking of ones and twos into the expanses of the Zayed Cricket Stadium’s outfield. It wasn’t until the 18th over Barkat finally broke the boundary drought with an edged reverse sweep that went very fine.
From there both accelerated, McKechnie middled a towering six over the legside from Perchard, and by the time the overs were done, Hong Kong had got themselves to 144 and the McKechnie/Barkat partnership contributed 61 from 8.2 overs.
Just when Stevens and Jenner were looking like they may take the game away from Hong Kong during Jersey’s chase, Jennner missed a heave across the line to an Aizaz delivery. The very next over, Eshan Khan’s last, Stevens and then the dangerous Ben Ward were both dismissed bowled, from Khan’s last two deliveries.
This left 59 runs required from 42 balls, with Corey Bisson and Nick Greenwood at the crease. HK squeezed the pair well until the equation got down to 42 from 24, but a full toss from the final delivery of the 17th over from Christie was hit for six by Bisson.
Harron Arshad then spilled a regulation chance at long off from Greenwood, but he was held two ball later at long on by Nizakat Khan. 23 from 12 was required. Kyle Christie only went for 8 from the 19th leaving 15 from 6 needed.
Skipper Aizaz Khan closed out the final over, which only went for six runs including a bye.