Coetzer fifty gives Scotland T20 split in HK
Scotland 161 for 9 (Coetzer 70, Amjad 3-21, Nadeem 3-23) beat Hong Kong 124 (Afzal 56, Wheal 3-20, Berrington 3-22) by 37 runs
Scotland rode Kyle Coetzer's powerful batting at the top of the order to a 37-run win over Hong Kong at Mission Road, earning a split of the two-match T20 series. Man-of-the-Match Coetzer scored 70 off 40 balls, a career-best in T20Is for the opener, to propel the visitors to 161 after being sent in.
It was a solid bounceback in particular for Coetzer after falling for a duck the day before in Scotland's nine-wicket defeat. His opening partner George Munsey fell without scoring in the opening over of Sunday's rematch but Coetzer and Matthew Cross were undeterred in their aggression during the Powerplay.
Coetzer maintained a brisk pace early before Cross targeted Hong Kong captain Tanvir Afzal in the sixth, clattering a trio of fours through mid-off and a fourth behind point to take Scotland to 54 for 1. Their 71-run stand ended when Nadeem Ahmed had Cross caught off the left-arm spinner's first ball in the ninth over for 27, failing to clear Nizakat Khan at deep midwicket.
Coetzer kept cruising after Cross departed though and eventually brought up his fifty off 29 balls, striking the left-arm spin of Anshuman Rath for his fourth six over mid-off. He hit six sixes in all, every one driven between mid-on and cover, in an impressive display of orthodox strokeplay. After pulling Aizaz Khan for his fifth four in the 13th, Coetzer tried the shot again but top-edged to Nizakat at deep square leg.
Scotland stuttered from there, losing their next five wickets for 17 runs as Nadeem and Haseeb Amjad prevented a late surge following Coetzer's excellent platform. Nadeem in particular kept Scotland off balance with his variations of flight and pace to claim 3 for 23, and helped to hold Scotland to 161 for 9.
Any momentum Hong Kong had in the final five overs in the field was wiped out by a double-barreled seam assault from Safyaan Sharif and Bradley Wheal, who reduced the hosts to 7 for 4 after 15 balls of the chase. Jamie Atkinson was squared up first ball and edged Sharif behind to Cross before Wheal got a slice of good fortune when Rath missed a full toss after charging down the track to start the second and was bowled for 1.
Wheal nearly had Mark Chapman two balls later as an inside edge missed the stumps before going to the fine-leg boundary but on the final ball of the over managed to have the prized scalp - caught flicking a thin edge down the leg side to a diving Cross. Sharif had Babar Hayat poking unnecessarily at a wide delivery to send a catch to Preston Mommsen at second slip three balls into the third over and from there Hong Kong were virtually out of the game.
Hong Kong slipped further to 34 for 6 in the ninth when Richie Berrington struck off consecutive deliveries. Nizakat was caught hooking to deep square leg for 17 while Kinchit Shah drove a full delivery flat and hard to Calum MacLeod at head height on the long-off rope for 7.
Afzal made the final margin appear more flattering after striking the fastest T20I fifty for Hong Kong, off 20 balls, including four sixes in a 30-run over off Rob Taylor in the 17th when he drove the left-arm medium-pacer repeatedly over mid-on and mid-off. He had been dropped earlier on 22 off a sharp return chance to the left-arm spinner Mark Watt as a drive burst through the bowler's hands toward mid-off but Afzal's fireworks finally came to an end in the 18th when Wheal returned to the attack and forced a mistimed drive to Taylor at mid-off. Berrington ended the match one over later with his third wicket after Amjad sent a catch to deep square leg.
Hong Kong now have two weeks to prepare for their Asia Cup T20 qualifying round against UAE, Afghanistan and Oman. Scotland will fly through the UAE on their way home for three matches, including T20Is against UAE and Netherlands on February 4 and 5 in their final scheduled action before their first match at the World T20 against Afghanistan on March 8.