Another powerful batting display by the Hong Kong top order has seen them account for Singapore by 39 runs at the ACC Twenty20 Cup 2013 and complete an unbeaten run through the group stage of the tournament.
Hong Kong's dynamic duo of Irfan Ahmed and Waqas Barkat once again got off to a flying start after skipper Jamie Atkinson had won won the toss and elected to bat first. Fifteen runs were belted off the opening over and by the end of the 6-over powerplay period, Hong Kong was sitting pretty on 0-77, with Irfan on 44 and Waqas on 21. Runs continued to flow from the Hong Kong bats and the partnership reached 99 from 49 balls when Irfan was dismissed for 63 from the first ball of the 9th over from the bowling of Abhirag Singh. Irfan's runs were scored from just 33 balls and included nine fours and two sixes.
A mini collapse saw Hong Kong lose two further wickets as Jamie Atkinson and Tanwir Afzaal were dismissed cheaply during a short period of dominance by the Singapore bowlers. But order was restored after Nizakat Khan joined Waqas at the crease and the pair produced an unbroken partnership worth 91-runs, scored from just 54 balls to lift Hong Kong to 3-198 from their 20 overs. Nizakat whacked three fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 41 off 26 balls, while Waqas completed his second fine knock with an unbeaten 69 from 51 balls, featuring six fours and three sixes of his own.
Abhirag Singh was the pick of the Singapore bowlers as he claimed 2-15 from his four over spell.
Tanwir Afzal grabbed a wicket for Hong Kong in the first over of Singapore's reply, trapping Rezza Gaznavi LBW for a golden duck. However the Singaporean batsmen came back hard at Hong Kong as Arjun Mutreja and Chaminda Ruwan added 49 runs in the next 29 balls. Hong Kong was forced into an early bowling change and the switch to spin paid immediate dividends as Karan Shah grabbed the wicket of Mutreja (23) in his first over. Thirty-nine year-old Singapore skipper Saad Janjua failed to stick around too long and Singapore were reasonably well poised on 3-56 from seven overs, slightly behind the required run-rate.
Another good partnership of 50 runs between Ruwan and Anish Param kept the pressure on the Hong Kong bowlers but when the score had reached 106, a slick piece of glove work by Jamie Atkinson saw Param (20) stumped off the bowling of Nizakat Khan. When Ruwan fell in the next over for a well struck 57 from 44 balls, it effectively ended Singapore's chances of victory. The remaining batsmen struck a few late blows but their efforts were too little too late as Hong Kong ran out comfortable winners by 39 runs with Aizaz Khan picking up two late wickets.
Irfan Ahmed picked up his second Man of the Match award for the tournament.
Scorecard Summary: Hong Kong 3-198 from 20 overs (Irfan Ahmed 63, Waqas Barkat 69*, Nizakat Khan 41*) beat Singapore 8-159 from 20 overs (Chaminda Ruwan Kumarage 57) by 39 runs [Full Scorecard]
Hong Kong have completed the group stages with an unbeaten record and they now enjoy two day's rest before their semi-final match on 2nd April. UAE were surprise winners over Afghanistan in today's Group B match meaning the winner of tomorrow's Afghanistan versus Kuwait match will go through to the semi-final against Hong Kong.