Hong Kong needed just seven runs to win in the final over of the Men’s One Day Series.
But after Malaysia’s skipper Virandeep Singh restricted the home side to just four – and managed a wicket in between – the visitors scraped a two-run victory.
With the win, Malaysia had bested Hong Kong in three of the teams’ past four One Day encounters. And the difference in each of those victories accumulated to just a 10-run differential.
After Canada departed Hong Kong with a runners-up finish in the One Day Tri-Nations Series, Hong Kong and Malaysia – the tournament champions – took to their own affair with a three-game Bilateral Series that stretched over just four days.
Hong Kong called the better side of the coin and made a bowl-first decision in the opening game.
It took just four deliveries for debutante Shreyar Khan to secure his first scalp. Fewer than eight overs later, Khan had claimed his second Malaysian victim as Syed Aziz edged the leather straight to Hong Kong’s first slip fielder.
In a bounce back from a subpar bowling spell just a couple days prior, veteran fast bowler Aizaz Khan maintained a tight lid on Malaysia’s batters and dismissed both Muhammad Syahdat and Zubaidi Zulkifle for a combined sum of just 17 runs.
But through the innings, Shreyar Khan’s pace and accuracy in his inaugural outing remained in the limelight as he snagged a four-fer. The right arm pacer’s 10-0-56-4 spell included the dismantling of Malaysia’s top four batters.
The collective efforts of Shreyar Khan, Aizaz Khan and a contribution from youngster Raunaq Kapur capped off Malaysia’s innings at 238/7. Beyond a century and half-century from Ahmad Faiz and Ahmed Aqeel, respectively, no Malaysian batter could eclipse the 10-run mark.
Hong Kong’s opening pair saw their respective lifelines expire before the five-over mark – but it was the team’s middle order that steered it to a near-defeat of Malaysia. The Nizakat Khan – Babar Hayat partnership supplemented a 48-run partnership before both were forced to exit the pitch within a four-ball stretch.
Aizaz Khan and Zeeshan Ali – Hong Kong’s fifth and seventh batters – anchored the team’s innings with a 12.2-over 64-run showcase. The former fell to a sitter of a catch, but Ali proved Hong Kong’s stalwart as three expulsions on the other end of the pitch couldn’t faze his assault. Despite his efforts to bring the chase down to just nine runs off the final 21 deliveries, restrictive death bowling from Malaysia ensured it a six-run triumph.
One element remained constant in the subsequent two matches – rain. Thursday’s contest saw a two-hour delay, ultimately shortening it to 34 overs an innings.
Hong Kong may have only secured one victory through Malaysia’s visit. But Thursday’s landslide win came in dominating fashion as the home side departed Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground with a resounding 115-run beating, with DLS procedures cementing the final verdict.
A familiar four names spurred Hong Kong’s 253-run barrage in just 34 overs. Steady half-centuries from Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan put their squad at about a run a ball by the time the former was snared at the gully region. Babar Hayat came in to slam 37 runs off just 22 deliveries, after which Hong Kong dropped four wickets in three overs – but one end of the pitch kept just one face throughout.
Aizaz Khan blasted 68 runs in 22 balls, 27 of which came in the final over itself, to force Malaysia to summon up over a run a ball in its innings.
Further rain delay trimmed Malaysia’s chase to just 235 runs in 27 overs. Tuesday’s centurion Faiz chalked up a team-high 33 runs, outside of which no Malaysian batter found the footing needed to chase Hong Kong’s hefty total.
Pacers Nasrulla Rana and Ayush Shukla crumbled Malaysia’s top-order batters, after which Yasim Murtaza took up Hong Kong’s mantle. The left-arm off-spinner captured two in his second over, stifling Malaysia’s run rate before another pair of dismissals in the 20th over.
Keeping the ball on a string throughout his spell, Murtaza’s eventual five-wicket haul left Malaysia reeling at 90/8 with just over five overs left to play and 29 runs required off each.
Six subsequent boundaries couldn’t close Malaysia’s gap on Hong Kong’s total, and Babar Hayat’s removal of Muhammad Wafiq at the end of the 26th over clinched the home team’s first win of the series.
Friday’s rain slashed the match to 39 overs per side. Virandeep Singh’s bowl-first decision allowed himself and one-down batter Sharvin Muniyandy to establish a strong start for Malaysia. The duo’s steady partnership left Malaysia at a run rate of 4.50 by the time the two exited the pitch.
Unshaken by three oustings on the other end of the pitch, Faiz put on another onslaught – dispatching six fours and four sixes en route to 76* off 48 balls to propel Malaysia’s total to 230 runs.
Promise teetered in favor of Hong Kong when Babar Hayat and Aizaz Khan rebuilt Hong Kong’s innings after its top three batters were back in the pavilion after the first 10.2 overs. An early dropped catch of Aizaz Khan proved expensive for Malaysia as Hong Kong’s ace notched 89 runs Friday.
By the end of his knock, Aizaz Khan had garnered 211 total runs through the Bilateral Series – nearly 30% of Hong Kong’s total runs in the three matches.
But once Malaysia bagged three scalps in two overs – courtesy of Unni and Wafiq – Rana and Ehsan Nawaz had 18 deliveries to rack up 36 runs. Three boundaries and two colossal maximums from the all-rounder Rana left Hong Kong’s bag just seven short of its required sum entering the final over.
In yet another thriller, the Malaysians ultimately clawed a two-run victory over Hong Kong and boarded their flight home with the hardware.
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