Ugandan players celebrate wildly as James Atkinson is adjudged LBW to end a dramatic match © ICC Cricket-Europe
Hong Kong's dreams of playing at the 2011 Cricket World Cup are in tatters after they were beaten by a single run by Uganda at the Corimayo ground today. Hong Kong had fought back well in a topsy-turvy match to put themselves in a strong position to pull off a stunning victory but a flurry of late wickets saw them slump to the most agonising of defeats. The result effectively ends their chances of finishing in the top two at this tournament and reaching the World Cup Qualifying tournament in South Africa unless some shock results go in their favour in the last round of matches on Friday.
On another overcast but warm morning, Uganda won the toss and chose to bat first. Irfan Ahmed opened with a maiden over but the Ugandan openers of Roger Mukasa and Arthur Kyobe soon took a toll on the new ball. Roy Lamsam was hit out of the attack after just two overs with Mukasa punishing anything loose or in the slot. Tabarak Dar rotated the Hong Kong bowlers regualrly in an effort to unsettle the Ugandan batsmen and by the 18th over, all six Hong Kong bowlers had already bowled at least one spell. Moner Ahmed struck first when he induced a false shot from Kyobe with his score on 18 and the total on 67after 19 overs. The loss only spurred the Ugandans on and a further 33 runs flowed from the next 4 overs before Moner Ahmed claimed a double strike in the 24th over. When Najeeb Amar bowled the free scoring Mukasa for a well struck 67 from 82 balls, Hong Kong was back in the match with the score evenly poised at 110-4 after 27 overs. Hong Kong continued to pick up wickets at regular intervals and only a late charge by Kenneth Kamyuka, who hit 37 runs from 46 balls, enabled Uganda to reach 180 all out with the last wicket falling on the last ball of the 50th over.
Moner Ahmed was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers as he claimed 4-30 from his ten over spell while Ilyas Gull and Irfan Ahmed picked up two wickets each. Nadeem Ahmed once again bowled very economically with only 21 runs conceded from his ten over spell. Hong Kong's bowlers did well to restrict Uganda to a total of 180 after the Africans appeared to be cruising at 90-1 in the 24th over.
Hong Kong's reply got off to the worst possible start with Roy Lamsam being bowled by Kenneth Kamyuka from the very first ball of the innings. Worse was to follow as Najeeb Amar top edged the fourth ball to third man and Hong Kong was two down without a run on the board. Hong Kong's vice captain Manoj Cheruparambil and Hussain Butt then set about rescuing the innings. At first the pair batted with caution as they strove to see off the menacing Kamyuka but they also did well to put away any bad deliveries. Manoj was the more aggressive of the two batsmen and he reached his second half-century of the tournament in the 26th over but he was unfortunately run out shortly afterwards for 51 from 76 balls with the total on 84. Zain Abbas joined Butt at the crease and the pair continued Hong Kong's revival. They shared a 40-run partnership before Butt was caught off the bowling of Emmanuel Nakaana for 52 from 102 balls. Moner Ahmed and Irfan Ahmed chipped in with a few vital runs that moved Hong Kong's score to 160-5 in the 46th over at which stage a stunning Hong Kong victory looked the most likely outcome.
"To be honest we were cruising to victory, and then all of a sudden we lost five wickets for 19 runs. We weren't quite good enough, but I'm proud of the guys and the amount of effort they put in."Aftab Habib - Hong Kong Coach
But Uganda had other ideas. Irfan was bowled by Ssemanda for 12 and when Kamyuka had Tabarak Dar caught for a duck in the next over, the alarm bells starting ringing in the Hong Kong camp. Nadeem Ahmed hit two boundaries to lift Hong Kong to the brink of victory but he too fell to Kamyuka with eight runs still required. Another boundary to Zain and a scrambled single left Hong Kong needing three runs from the final over for victory with two wickets in hand. But disaster struck for Hong Kong as Zain cut Ssemanda's second ball straight to deep gully and James Atkinson was adjudged LBW from the fourth ball leaving Hong Kong all out for 179. Uganda had snatched victory by one run in a breath-taking end to the game. Hong Kong's last five wickets had fallen for just nineteen runs and with it had gone Hong Kong's best chance of a place in the final. For Uganda Kenneth Kamyuka claimed 4-21 in a brilliant 10-over spell of pace bowling while Ssemanda finished with 3-40. Kamyuka's efforts with bat and ball earned him the Man of the Match award.
Hong Kong still have a chance of making the final but some unlikely results on Friday will have to go in their favour for them to advance. Firstly, Hong Kong will need to beat Papua New Guinea in their last match - and they need to do that to assure they remain in Division 3 - and they then will be hoping that Argentina or the Cayman Islands can upset Uganda and Afghanistan respectively in which case run-rate calculations will determine the final placings.
In other matches played today, Afghanistan thrashed the previously unbeaten Papua New Guineans by eight wickets while Cayman Islands beat Argentina by six wickets to register their first victory of the tournament.
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