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Bulletin by Rahul Bhatia
July 16, 2004
Bangladesh 221 for 9 (Javed Omar 68) beat Hong Kong 105 by 116 runs
Nearly. Oh-so-nearly. Hong Kong could have won this, their first game in senior international cricket. They lost by 116 runs in the end, but for a while they played as if they were favourites, until Bangladesh got their act together in the second half and cut them down to size. The target of 222 was just too much for Hong Kong, and though their batsmen stayed in for long periods, no-one could score quickly enough to make a difference. Bangladesh's bowling - nippy, accurate, incisive - never let anyone settle. But in the end, it wasn't the bowling, or the pitch, but inexperience that did Hong Kong in.
Rarely has a team with as little cricket history behind them as Hong Kong come out with the kind of confidence they showed first thing. Bangladesh were put in, and were alarmed by the swing and bounce the bowlers achieved. The new-ball pair, Afzaal Haider and Khalid Khan, occasionally made the batsmen play hesitantly, at other times too eagerly, and always with very little footwork.
Haider, in particular, came off a fluent run and swung the ball away late, and added to the batsmen's hesitation by throwing in a few offcutters. Mohammad Ashraful, the first to go, nervously swished at a lifter before smashing the next one to mid-off (10 for 1). Habibul Bashar - aggressively - and Javed Omar - doggedly - then stuck together to add 85, as Hong Kong's bowling began to falter. Bashar used the horizontal bat well, until he swept Najeeb Aamer to square leg (95 for 2). Meanwhile, Omar played as if he were under siege. Several times clean shots were stopped by the livewire fielders, but in truth, he was content to stick around and not do anything silly. His 68 came off 113 balls, but it propped Bangladesh up, for there were no easy runs.
The silliness was left to a few of his team-mates; three of the next four batsmen fatally attempted to glide the ball to third man. One was bowled, and the others were caught by the wicketkeeper. It was undignified batting. Towards the end, they had to scamper to make 221 for 9.
Bangladesh returned to the pitch determined to make amends. Mushfiqur Rahman and Tapash Baisya bowled with hostility. Baisya hurried the batsmen into awkward shots, but Mushfiqur swung one that straightened and clattered into Manoj Cheruparambil's stumps (1 for 2). Alex French then attempted to turn a Mushfiqur delivery to leg, but the found the ball arriving later than he expected, and the bowler took a simple return catch (2 for 15).
The bespectacled Tim Smart maintained a limpet-like presence for 17 overs, scoring just nine runs while his team-mates did their best to break free. A number of them hung around, but none made a difference. Tabarak Dar (20) thumped one to the cover boundary, but for the 11 debutants, joys like this were in short supply. The other player making his debut, Bangladesh's Abdur Razzaq, enjoyed a good day as he picked up 3 for 17.
Hong Kong, try as they did, were out of the game after the halfway mark of their innings. But, for the 50 overs they bowled, they made a match of it, which was a lot more than they had been expected to do.
Pataudi Jr caught a young English fan's fancy for his princely ways and his heroic batting