Hong Kong 129 for 8 (Chapman 30, Kevin O'Brien 3-32) beat Ireland 124 for 8 (Stirling 34, Irfan 3-11) by five runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
'This win means a lot to me' - Irfan Ahmed
Hong Kong allrounder Irfan Ahmed reflects on his side's shock win over Ireland in the ICC World T20 qualifier, in which he won the Man-of-the-Match award for returns of 3 for 11
After winning 21 straight matches at the World T20 Qualifier, Ireland's batting funk has now led to two straight defeats, as Hong Kong stunned the hosts by defending 129 for a five-run win. Mark Chapman's gritty 30 in Hong Kong's innings was backed up by an inspired bowling unit spearheaded by captain Tanwir Afzal's opening four-over spell of 0 for 9 to hold Ireland down to 124 for 8.
After rain delayed the start of the second innings, Hong Kong's pace bowlers also benefitted from intermittent bursts of showers that were never enough to take the players off the field but added moisture to the pitch and made batting difficult as the chase wore on.
While Afzal was stingy from one end, he struggled to find a bowling partner to keep the pressure up at the other, and Ireland appeared on course for victory after Paul Stirling torched Aizaz Khan for 20 runs to move the score to 43 for 1. But the introduction of Irfan Ahmed in the ninth over turned the tide Hong Kong's way as he got Stirling pulling to deep midwicket for 34 and Ireland's innings sputtered from there.
Kevin O'Brien fell three overs later with only 11 more added to the total, run-out for 5 after hesitating for a second on Irfan's arm from long on, as Nizakat Khan's tight spell of legspin generated pressure on the field. Gary Wilson and William Porterfield added 30 for the fourth wicket but Wilson fell at a critical stage for 16, caught behind off Aizaz .
Porterfield was bowled for 28 by Haseeb Amjad as Hong Kong continued to surge in the field, and Stuart Thompson was run out on the following ball by a direct hit from the captain Afzal at mid off to leave Ireland needing 25 off two overs with four wickets in hand. Irfan bowled a magnificent two-run 19th over to cap off figures of 4-0-11-3, claiming Stuart Poynter with a thin edge behind and George Dockrell caught in the deep for a duck.
With 23 needed off the final over, John Mooney hit a boundary back down the ground off the first ball from Haseeb, but a dot was followed by a two and wide to bring it to 16 off three balls. A yorker on the fourth legal delivery clinched the win, Mooney's six and four off the last two balls only making the final margin closer than it actually was.
Ireland badly missed the experience of Niall O'Brien, who was out after twisting a knee in the loss to Papua New Guinea. His status for the rest of the tournament is unknown.
The hosts inserted Hong Kong after winning the toss but could not capitalise on some early chances that turned out to be costly in the end, none more so than when Nizakat was dropped on 0 after Porterfield's brilliant one-handed effort at backward point failed to stick. Nizakat made 25 off 21 balls, serving as the aggressor in a 44-run stand with Anshuman Rath who made 22 off 35 balls before he was bowled around his legs by Dockrell.
Nizakat fell to an excellent leg-side stumping off Kevin O'Brien with Wilson standing up, and Babar Hayat missed a sweep to give Dockrell his second wicket in the 13th over making it 74 for 4. It was left to Chapman to give Hong Kong a fighting chance and he dug in until the final ball, hitting five fours along the way.
Crucially, Chapman hit three of those boundaries off the final seven balls of the innings - working his way around the leg side with a drive over mid on, a slog over midwicket and a scoop over fine leg - before falling in the deep off the last ball. While the bowlers received most of the plaudits in the end, it was the 21-year-old vice-captain whose unsung efforts gave the bowlers a platform to defend.
The win gives Hong Kong a chance of finishing as high as second in the group if they can secure wins over USA and Namibia in their final two Group A matches. Ireland's second loss in Group A now means that Papua New Guinea need to win just one of their final two games against Namibia or USA to clinch first place and force Ireland into playing at least one extra match to secure a spot in next year's World T20.