Hong Kong come up short against experienced UAE
UAE 218-4 from 42.2 overs (Abdul Shakoor 33, Shaiman Anwar 83, Saqib Ali 38) beat Hong Kong 215 from 50 overs (Irfan Ahmed 31, Nizakat Khan 40; Manjula Guruge 3-34, Ahmed Raza 3-27) by six wickets
Hong Kong have slumped to a six-wicket loss to hosts UAE in a crucial match at the ACC Trophy Elite 2012 in Dubai. Hong Kong failed to capitalise on an excellent opening partnership and could only muster 215 from their 50 overs - a total that was easily knocked off by the experienced UAE batsmen.
Batting first after being inserted by their opponents, the Hong Kong opening pairing of Waqas Barkat (27) and Iran Ahmed (31) put together a half-century stand as they took the attack to the UAE bowlers. However both batsmen fell in successive overs as UAE skipper Khurram Khan switched his attack to spin, leaving Hong Kong on 64-2 after 13 overs. Jamie Atkinson and Nizakat Khan dropped anchor in an effort to revive the innings and the early flow of runs was reduced to a mere trickle with only 32 coming from the next thirteen overs.
Atkinson was next to fall, bowled by Silva for 23, with the score on 96-3 from 26 overs. Khan (40) and Kinchit Shah (13) combined for another useful stand worth 41-runs, but once again both batsmen fell in quick succession as Ahmed Raza grabbed both wickets to leave Hong Kong in some trouble at 146-6 after 39 overs. Babar Hayat and Anshuman Rath did their best to lift the run-rate but wickets fell at regular intervals to stall any momentum gained. Tanwir Afzal struck two sixes in his ten-ball 16, but the return of opening bowler Manjula Guruge broke the back of Hong Kong's lower order with Rath and Afzal clean-bowled in the 46th over. The tail added twenty runs to the score but Hong Kong's 215 off their 50 overs looked 40-50 short of a decent total.
A disappointing aspect of Hong Kong's batting was that nine of batsmen reached double-figures but none could do better than Nizakat Khan's 40 after making solid starts.
For UAE, opening bowler Manjula Guruge picked up 3-34 from five overs but the damage was done in the middle overs where Ahmed Raza (3-27 from 10) and Khurram Khan (1-25 from 10) strangled the life out of the Hong Kong offence.
Hong Kong needed an early breakthrough to put pressure back on the UAE team but none was forthcoming as Abdul Shakoor and Arshad Ali put on a stand worth 40 in the first 50 balls. Shakoor was the more aggressive of the two, but it was Ali who fell first - caught by Babar Hayat off the bowling of Nadeem Ahmed for 9. Shakoor eventually fell for 33 from 37 balls, leaving the UAE chase delicately poised at 56-2 mid-way through the 14th over.
Shaiman Anwar (83 from 111 balls) and Saqib Ali (38 from 68) then took the game away from Hong Kong as they shared a match-wining partnership worth 85-runs in 22 overs. Ali was eventually dismissed by Irfan Ahmed, who otherwise had an ordinary day with the ball, delivering 5 no-balls in a four over spell that cost 26 runs. Anwar was eventually dismissed in the 41st over, but by that stage UAE were within touching distance of their target. Khurrum Khan sped his team to victory with an unbeaten 19, the same score hit by Mohammad Azam. UAE were comfortable winners in the end with six wickets and 46 balls to spare.
Nadeem Ahmed was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers, claiming 1-27 from his seven over spell.
In the day's other matches, Kuwait did Hong Kong a big favour by beating Nepal by 4 wickets, despite an unbeaten century from Nepal skipper Paras Khadka. That result leaves Group B wide open with Hong Kong still atop the points table but only on run-rate.
In Group A, Afghanistan continued their unbeaten run with a 6 wicket thrashing of Maldives, while Malaysia went a long way to securing their semi-final berth by beating Oman by two wickets in a thriller.
Hong Kong's final group match will be played against Nepal at the ICC Global Cricket Academy on Tuesday, 9th October 2012 with a semi-final spot guaranteed for the winner.