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January 17, 2014
Opening batsman Irfan Ahmed scored his maiden List-A century to help Hong Kong crush Canada by nine wickets in an ICC World Cup Qualifier Group A match in Rangiora. Chasing 172, Hong Kong lost opener Mark Wright in the second over but that ended up being the only strike Canada were able to make. Irfan and Jamie Atkinson, the Hong Kong captain, then scored the remaining runs at a brisk pace and overhauled the target in the 26th over. Irfan remained unbeaten on 100 that came off 85 deliveries and included 14 fours and two sixes while Atkinson scored a run-a-ball 63.
"I feel great, it was a good opportunity for me," Irfan said. "It was a good wicket to bat on. The runs were coming easily as they were pitching the ball up and I just kept hitting. I took my time to start with, but once I was in I just kept playing my shots."
Irfan's innings earned praise from his captain too. Atkinson said, "I was happy to play second fiddle today. I had the best seat in the house to watch Irfan's hundred - it was sensational."
Looking for their first win, Canada opted to bat after winning the toss and were given a solid start by their openers. But both batsmen - Nitish Kumar, who scored 28, and Ruvindu Gunasekera - were dismissed within the space of four balls. The Hong Kong bowlers then took control and didn't allow Canada batsmen to settle, picking up wickets at regular intervals. Four batsmen made it to the 20s, but the highest anyone got to was 29 by Trevim Bastiampillai. Canada were bowled out for 171 in 48 overs with Haseeb Amjad being the pick of the bowlers with three wickets while Tanwir Afzal returned with remarkable figures of 10-5-11-1.
"We just didn't perform with the bat or in the field," Jimmy Hansra said. "I think it was a 250 wicket, and we needed a really good performance to defend 171. But unfortunately we lacked discipline in the field."
A late cameo by JJ Smit provided Namibia the push to overhaul Kenya's total in Mount Maunganui and register their second straight win in the competition. Namibia were seven down for 144, still 43 short of the target, when Smit arrived at the crease. He added a crucial 29 runs for the eighth wicket Jaen Kotze, then added a further 14 for the ninth wicket to help the team cross the line with seven balls to spare. He was unbeaten on 33 off 25 balls.
The chase, for most part, had been steered by a composed 97-ball 45 by Sarel Burger and his dismissal in the 43rd over gave Kenya an opening, but Smit ensured Kenya remained winless. Burger, the Namibia captain, praised Smit's effort and said, "He's showing great composure, I think he's bowling out of his boots at the moment and obviously kept it all together there at the end."
Smit had been menacing with the ball as well, picking up three wickets for 23 runs in his 10 overs. He dismissed opener Irfan Karim in his second over, then came back to pick up the big wicket of Kenya's top-scorer Steve Tikolo and Ragheb Aga. For Kenya, apart from two half-century stands - 53 between Morris Ouma and Tikolo, and 63 for the seventh wicket between Rakep Patel and Hiren Varaiya - there weren't many significant contributions. It was Kenya's second straight loss in the tournament.
"I am very disappointed because that was our second match and we lost," Rakep said. "We thought if we could have won that game we could have had chances to go to the Super Six stage. Now we have to win both the remaining games.
"The batting has been clicking well. If you see the conditions, it was a little bit difficult and we scored 180. I thought it was a defendable score but just that the catches - we just didn't take them and it cost us."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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