Hong Kong recovered from a poor start against Italy to win the clash between two of the pre-tournament favourites by 46 runs on the opening day of the World Cricket League Division 4 in Dar Es Salaam. In a game reduced to 41 overs per side, Hong Kong managed to overcome the loss of two early wickets to post an imposing score of 210 for 5, with Zain Abbas (70), Ilyas Gul (48) and Butt Hussain (44) all in excellent form. Hong Kong then put in a good bowling and fielding display, to restrict Italy to 163 for 9, leaving coach Aftab Habib content with his side's start.
"It was a really good team performance," Habib said. "We've got a lot of character and fight in our team and Zain Abbas played an exceptional innings today. There's still a lot more to work on in the rest of this tournament though."
Hosts Tanzania started well, beating Jersey by 34 runs. In a low-scoring match, Tanzania were bowled out for 142 after a mid-innings collapse saw them slump from 85 for 2 to 119 for 9. A tenth-wicket stand of 23, interrupted by rain showers, between Man of the Match Hamisi Abdallah (31) and Riziki Kiseto (8*) gave them a defendable target, and then their spinners proved too tricky for Jersey who also suffered a dramatic collapse. Seemingly well on course at 69 for 2, four wickets fell for eight runs and that left them with too much to do.
"Everybody worked hard and my team gave me the support that I asked of them," Abdallah said. "It's our first game and there are so many games in this tournament we just need to keep playing well. We tried to bowl to our field and at the stumps. The spinners did a wonderful job."
Afghanistan, who qualified for this tournament by winning the Division 5 competition earlier in the year, also got off to a winning start with an 80-run victory over Fiji. Their batsmen also struggled in damp conditions as they limped to 132 all out with Iniasi Cakacaka (4 for 26) and Waisake Tukaha (3 for 16) doing most of the damage. However, Fiji were undone by some excellent bowling led by Hamid Hassan (4 for 25) and they only managed to muster 52.
"We always thought that would be enough runs," Hassan said. "As bowlers, you can't change the score so we just tried our best with the ball. And it paid off."
In the second round of matches on Sunday, Hong Kong take on Tanzania, Italy play Fiji, while Afghanistan meet Jersey in a repeat of the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 final.