Rath, Nizakat give HK win on home ODI debut
Hong Kong 259 (Rath 97, Nizakat 94, Evans 4-41) beat Scotland 150 (MacLeod 58, Afzal 3-20, Nadeem 4-26) by 109 runs
Rain may have spoiled the maiden first-class match from being played on Hong Kong soil last week, but the weather behaved long enough for a historic maiden home ODI victory by Hong Kong, who defeated Scotland by 109 runs at Mission Road on Tuesday. A total of 259 after being sent in, achieved thanks to a 170-run fourth-wicket stand between Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath, turned out to be plenty for the hosts.
The win for Hong Kong breaks a four-way tie to move them to the top of the WCL Championship points table. They are now two points clear of Scotland, Netherlands and Kenya, who each have six points.
Hong Kong found themselves in trouble at 16 for 2 in three overs as Alasdair Evans removed Kinchit Shah for a second-ball duck before Babar Hayat fended a short ball to wicketkeeper Matthew Cross for 8. Former captain Jamie Atkinson fell shortly after the initial powerplay, slapping Safyaan Sharif to Calum MacLeod at cover for 21 to make it 55 for 3.
Nizakat joined the opener Rath and the pair engaged in a dogged resistance of the Scotland attack's pressure. It took Nizakat 12 balls to get off the mark before the shackles came undone with a lofted cover drive. The right-hander looked increasingly comfortable by the 28th over when he flayed debutant Bradley Wheal behind point for a pair of crisp cuts to the boundary.
Rath was on 20 when Nizakat came to the crease but Nizakat overtook his partner in the 31st over with a straight drive over Richie Berrington's head before flicking the part-time medium pacer through fine leg for his ninth four to bring up a half-century off 59 balls. Rath, whose momentum slowed down in the 30s after being struck on the box, grafted his way to his own fifty off 91 balls four overs later.
Scotland's frustration at being unable to break the stand grew after Rath was dropped on 75 in the 40th over off Josh Davey, when a skied chance produced by a checked drive to a slower ball was spilled by a backpedaling Preston Mommsen at midwicket. Nizakat powered a six over cover off the next ball, then smashed another over midwicket off Sharif in the 44th to break into the 90s. However, Sharif's commitment to the slower-ball bouncer paid off by the end of the over as Nizakat gloved an attempted pull to Cross behind the stumps to finally end the partnership.
At 225 for 4 and with Rath on 86, Hong Kong set out to finish the innings with a flourish but their aggressiveness backfired and they wound up being bowled out with five balls left in the innings. The slide was sparked by Evans in the 47th, who had Tanwir Afzal and Waqas Barkat out caught behind and teamed up with Cross for a third wicket when he chased down a delivery off his own bowling at midwicket before firing to the keeper's end to run out Rath for 97.
Rob Taylor had Aizaz Khan and Haseeb Amjad both caught by Mommsen at long-on in the 49th before Wheal closed out the innings by getting Nadeem Ahmed to slice a drive to Evans at third man. Evans led the way with 4 for 41 but consistent support came from Sharif and Taylor with 2 for 44 and 2 for 38 respectively.
A light rain was present throughout the early part of the Scotland chase but the outlook became gloomier for the visitors when captain Afzal struck off back-to-back balls in the fifth to clean bowl Kyle Coetzer for 6 and tease Matt Machan into chasing a rising delivery for an edge behind. The rain increased enough for the players to leave the field at 9 for 2 after seven overs.
Any hope Scotland might have had of being saved by rain faded when the umpires brought both sides back on 20 minutes later and before long wickets continued to tumble. Mommsen fell for 5 in the 10th to a superb sliding catch by Aizaz at mid-on after a mistimed pull off Amjad.
Afzal, who bowled a near-unbroken 10 overs, changing ends midway through his spell, took one more in his final over to finish with 3 for 20 as Berrington flicked loosely to midwicket. Aizaz struck in back-to-back overs beginning in the 26th when Cross was well caught just inside the rope at long on by Barkat before MacLeod's resistance ended for 58 in the 28th when he sliced a drive to third man.
Nadeem then came on to wipe out the tail and finished with career-best List A figures of 4 for 26. Taylor was claimed at deep midwicket before Sharif was stumped overbalancing on a whiffed drive. The left-arm tweaker induced a leading edge to cover by Evans for his third wicket before a thick edge from an errant drive was sent by Davey to Afzal at point on the first ball of the 40th over to wrap up victory.
The two sides are scheduled to play the second ODI at Mission Road on Thursday.