ICC World Cricket League Division 3, Darwin May 30, 2007

Improved Hong Kong go down to Tanzania by 5 wkts

Hong Kong's Ilyas Gull and Tanzania's Hamisi Abdallah at the toss of the coin © HKCA
An improved performance by Hong Kong wasn't enough to beat a determined Tanzania at Tracy Village Sports Ground in their final group match of the ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Darwin.

Conditions were once again hot and humid with early morning dew leaving the ground slightly wet under foot. The Tracy Village was the best and biggest ground the team had encountered so far, with 75-metre boundaries on the straight-hits and 70-metre boundaries square of the wicket. The Hong Kong team for the match had a few changes with Mark Kratzmann making his debut in place of Mark Eames while Khalid Khan was given a chance ahead of Zain Abbas.

Tanzania won the toss and they elected to bowl. The Tanzanian bowlers were hoping to take advantage of the early movement, on what otherwise looked like a good batting wicket.

Hong Kong's third different opening pairing of the tournament, Mark Kratzmann and Courtney Kruger, made a cautious start, not wanting to lose any early wickets. This they achieved with moderate success, but with the score on 22 after 8.3 overs, Kruger nibbled at a delivery and was caught behind by Tanzanian keeper Issa Kikasi. Kratzmann's dogged innings (6 runs from 34 balls) ended in the 12th over when he departed in similar fashion to the bowling of Tanzanian skipper Hamisi Abdallah.

By this time, Rahul Sharma had settled into his work and was patiently building an innings. Despite the big outfield, runs were proving hard to come by and boundaries were few and far between. Irfan Ahmed provided a few fireworks with a towering six, but he failed to go on after making a good start, being bowled on the last ball of Benson Mwita's 5th over. With his very next delivery, Mwita trapped Hussain Butt LBW for a first ball 0. It was Butt's third failure of the tournament, having scored only 21 runs in the three matches played to-date. After a promising start, Hong Kong was now teetering at 4-51 in the 19th over.

Hong Kong's skipper Ilyas Gull stepped up to the mark and together with Sharma, they put together a partnership of 64 runs in 17 overs. Not exactly riveting stuff, but at least they had built a platform from which Hong Kong could launch an assault on the Tanzanian bowlers. But the two fell in quick succession (both caught in the gully region) and when Najeeb Amar and Afzaal Haider both holed out in the deep, the initiative had been handed back to the African side. Sharma's patient 43 took 83 balls and included 2 boundaries. Nasir Hameed hung around for a while but gifted his wicket when he pushed meekly back to spinner Athumani Kakonzi to make it 9-140. Nadeem Ahmed provided an entertaining cameo at the end, including a towering six over mid-wicket, but when he was stumped going for another big shot, Hong Kong had failed to bat out their 50 overs for the third time in the tournament. Hong Kong's total was a rather unimpressive 161 from 47.2 overs against the weakest attack they had encountered so far.

For Tanzania, Bhavesh Govind grabbed three wickets while Benson Mwita, Hamisi Abdallah and Athumani Kakonzi grabbed a brace each.

Tanzania did not repeat the same mistakes as Hong Kong and their openers Rishen Patel and Abhik Patwa got their innings off to quick and safe start. Afzaal Haider beat the bat regularly, but he was not able to make the all-important breakthrough that Hong Kong desperately needed. In his effort to press for that extra bit of pace, he lost his control and conceded a number of wides. Khalid Khan opened at the other end but he proved easy pickings for the Tanzanian openers and he was removed from the attack after bowling four overs.

The Tanzanian openers made steady, if not spectacular, progress and brought up their 50 partnership off 11.2 overs. Irfan Ahmed, Hussain Butt and Najeeb Amar were all thrown the ball but none seemed to find the magic formula to claim a wicket. Ilyas Gull then tried his hand and he had immediate success when, from the second ball of the 22nd over, Patel edged a delivery to Nasir Hameed. Patel had scored 33 runs off 67 deliveries and the Tanzanian opening partnership had registered 77 runs. Gull should have had further success shortly afterwards but he grassed a regulation return catch from Abhik Patwa, then on 24. Hong Kong' next success didn't come until the 28th over when Najeeb Amar had Shaheed Dhanani stumped for 13.

The left-handed Patwa was the next to fall when, with his personal score on 44 off 99 balls, he edged a catch to Mark Kratzmann at first slip. Amar had Athumani Kakonzi caught and bowled in the next over and for a moment Hong Kong sniffed a possible victory. Amar and Haider were bowling extremely well in tandem and Haider was unlucky not to claim a second wicket when wicket-keeper Nasir Hameed grassed a difficult chance moving across in front of first slip. Haider's second 5 over spell conceded just 4 runs and he beat the bat repeatedly. He finished with the fine figures of 10-2-25-1 and was very unlucky not to have further success. Najeeb Amar also bowled well, finishing with the best figures of 10-1-16-2.

Hong Kong's final success came in the 46th over when Nadeem Ahmed trapped Hamisi Abdallah LBW for 19. By this stage, Tanzania had moved to 155 and only 7 more runs were needed for victory with five overs to play. Benson Mwita duly provided the finishing touch when he smote Hussain Butt to the extra cover boundary from the first ball of the 47th over and Tanzania had run out deserved winners by 5 wickets.

The Man of the Match Award was presented to Tanzania's Abhik Patwa.

[Full Scorecard: Hong Kong vs Tanzania]

This was an improved performance by Hong Kong but the team again failed to play to their potential and they lost to a team that they would have expected to beat. The batting frailties were again evident with only four batsmen registering double-figure scores.

Their next match sees them facing Italy in the Plate semi-finals. The Italians were unlucky to be eliminated to the secondary competition after registering two wins. They were undone by Argentina who scored a stunning victory over Fiji. Fiji were dismissed for just 44 runs and the Argentineans raced to victory off just 5 overs, thus upping their run-rate sufficiently to see them qualify ahead of the Italians. Papua New Guinea was the other qualifier from Group A.

In the main match of Group B, Uganda proved too good for the Cayman Islands and they now look favourites to win the tournament.