'Hong Kong can beat any team' - Ehsan Khan
The offspinner savoured a career-best 4 for 33 against a fancied Afghanistan team at the Bulawayo Athletic Club
"This was my dream," Ehsan Khan, the offspinner, said as he led a victorious Hong Kong team from the field at the Bulawayo Athletic Club. Ehsan's 4 for 33 is his career best, and to make it even sweeter it came against a Full Member.
"Thanks to almighty Allah, I got the Man-of the-Match award. I'm so happy that it came against Afghanistan, a Test nation. As a team, we always stick together, and we believed that we could beat them."
Ehsan's spell started with two wickets in his very first over - Rahmat Shah and Ihsanullah - and there was no let up in pressure. He was helped by the conditions in Bulawayo. Every team that has played here has remarked about the amount of turn on offer.
"There was a lot of turn," Ehsan said. "In Hong Kong, we have the same wickets, with the turn. So we knew how to bowl on this wicket. I just stuck to one line. I didn't do anything special, just bowled one line. I just bowled in the right area, and the result came."
While their win over a fancied Afghanistan team might have surprised many, captain Babar Hayat wasn't one of them, and he insisted that Hong Kong's success was the result of hard work and the progress made over the last few years.
"These guys have been performing well for the last three or four years," Hayat said. "The combination of Nadeem and Ehsan has performed well in the past. We've been working really hard for the last two years, and we're capable of getting into the Super Six. Today, we showed that we are capable. We are still in [with a good chance]."
Hong Kong's victory was all the more remarkable given their performance in their first match against Scotland. Two days ago, they had been bowled out for just 91 at this ground. While their bowlers still made inroads in that match, Hong Kong just didn't have the runs to defend. This time, they did.
"In the game we played against Scotland, we didn't bat well," Hayat said. "But we did bowl well, and we took six wickets. We knew if we scored at least 200 [against Afghanistan], that would be difficult for them."
"Today we showed we can beat any team," Ehsan said, echoing Hayat's sentiments. "I'm so happy. The guys have really worked hard, and after the first match, which we lost, we still stuck together."
"As captain, this win means a lot to me," Hayat said. "Back home, our fans and families and friends have been texting, and getting support from them meant a lot."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town