Hong Kong 179 for 8 (Nizakat 38, Carter 33, Naveed 2-47) beat UAE 176 for 9 (Ashfaq 79, Aizaz 5-28, Nadeem 3-28) by two wickets (D/L method - match reduced to 24 overs a side)
Hong Kong have qualified for the Asia Cup on the back of a two-wicket win over UAE in the final of the Qualifiers at the Kinrara Academy Oval in Kuala Lumpur.
Sent in to bat, UAE were 65 for 3 in the 16th over when rain halted their innings, reducing the game to 24 overs a side. The over reduction forced UAE to accelerate, and they managed to do so, scoring 111 in their remaining 8.3 overs. Opener Ashfaq Ahmed slammed 36 off 11 after the rain break to finish on 79 off 51 balls, and there were useful cameos from Shaiman Anwar, Muhammad Usman and Adnan Mufti too.
But they also lost six more wickets in the process, and the seamer Aizaz Khan finished with figures of 5 for 28 as UAE finished on 176 for 9.
Chasing a DLS-adjusted 179-run target, Hong Kong found themselves 147 for 7 in the 20th over, needing 32 to win off the last 27 balls. The match could have swung either way, and Tanwir Afzal and Scott McKechnie ensured it was Hong Kong who sneaked home, hitting two sixes and a four while putting on 29 for the eighth wicket. Tanwir fell when the equation was three off seven but McKechnie and Ehsan Nawaz took the side home with three balls to spare.
Ashfaq and Chirag Suri gave UAE a 54-run opening stand before Tanwir trapped Suri lbw for 11. Aizaz dismissed Rohan Mustafa and Rameez Shahzad in quick succession, just before the rain break. After play resumed, the UAE batsmen switched gears as Ashfaq and Shaiman Anwar added 58 in just 24 deliveries for the fourth wicket. The duo took a particular liking to the offspinner Ehsan Khan, who leaked 55 from his three overs.
However, both Ashfaq and Shaiman fell in the same over to the left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed, before Aizaz picked up three wickets in the penultimate over of the innings.
Nizakat Khan got Hong Kong's chase off to a flier, smashing Mohammad Naveed for three successive fours in the third over of the innings. Nizakat and Anshuman Rath added 64 for the first wicket in just six overs before the offspinner Rohan Mustafa got UAE their breakthrough by bowling Nizakat for a 20-ball 38. Amir Hayat and Kinchit Shah fell in the next over, making it 68 for 3.
At 84 for 4, Christopher Carter and Ehsan Khan joined hands and put on 53 for the fifth wicket to move Hong Kong to within 44 runs of the target with more than six overs remaining. UAE struck back with three quick wickets, but Tanwir and McKechnie kept calm to ensure Hong Kong finished on the right side.