Hong Kong national cricket team’s ICC World Twenty20 campaign in Bangladesh did not get off to the promising start that was hoped for when they were defeated in the first two games of the series – snuffing out any expectation of joining the Super 10.
Despite encouraging warm-up wins against Netherlands and Test nation Zimbabwe, Hong Kong were smashed in their first round 4-nation Group A match against Nepal by 80 runs last Sunday (Mar 16).
On Tuesday (Mar 18) Hong Kong’s match against Afghanistan – who had also lost their first match against Bangladesh by 9 wickets – was a must-win encounter for both. The winner would keep their hopes of progressing to the Super 10 competition alive.
Following the loss to Nepal, Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said that he would encourage his charges, who are in their very first ICC World T20, to play against the higher ranked Afghanistan without fear.
“I will be telling the boys to play with no fear,” Burke was reported as saying by icc-cricket.com. “Take the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere.
“It’s hugely important for the players not to think about the defeat, but to think about the fact that we’re here playing in the World T20.
“It’s not every day you get to travel the world and play in such a big stage with the world watching. A big part of it is soaking that up and backing themselves.”
Hong Kong won the toss and captain Jamie Atkinson elected to bat.
The match started ominously for Hong Kong with Irfan Ahmed bowled out by Shapoor Zadran on the first ball.
But Hong Kong responded to this early loss with Atkinson scoring 31 runs off 20 balls (including five 4’s and one 6) before being bowled lbw by Hamza Hotak. He and his partner Waqas Barkat had taken the score to 42 off 4.5 overs setting Hong Kong on the way to a good score.
Barkat, who went on to score a total of 32 runs, along with Mark Chapman (38) were other major contributors with the bat for a score of 153/8 off 20 overs for a 7.65 Run Rate.
Afghanistan started slowly with the bat. Najeeb Taraki was the first wicket to fall for 7 runs in the 3rd over with his team on 14. It took until the 11th over for Hong Kong to take the next wicket with the score 69/2. Afghanistan upped the Run Rate steadily as Hong Kong struggled to take a wicket.
Despite this, Hong Kong kept Afghanistan from scoring runs as freely as they would have liked and the match was in the balance when Mohammad Shahzad fell to Haseeb Amjad, caught by Irfan Ahmed, for 68 runs off 53 balls at 116/3.
Shahzad’s wicket in the 16th over was an important one as he had six 4’s and three 6’s to his name, with 38 runs need to win.
The 17th over was where Hong Kong lost their grip on the match when Afghanistan scored 24 runs off Aizaz Khan taking their score to 143/3 with three overs still remaining.
After the 17th over Hong Kong were left in an almost impossible position. It was always going to be an uphill battle from that point and the end came in the next over. Afghanistan won by 7 wickets 156/3 in the 18th over.
Though unable to hold Afghanistan for the last four possible overs, Hong Kong were indeed fearless and will take a lot out of their time in Bangaldesh.
Hong Kong are yet to play the hosts Bangladesh (Friday Mar 21 9.30pm HK) in what is a dead rubber for Hong Kong with only experience to gain and pride at stake.
The men’s 22-day tournament began on Mar 16 comprising 16 nations and a total of 35 matches. A 10-nation 27-match women’s T20 tournament is running concurrently with the men’s.
Other hopeful teams to join the men’s Super 10 from Group B are Netherlands, Ireland, Zimbabwe and United Arab Emirates.
The Super 10 comprises two groups. Group 1: England, New Zealand, South Africa Sri Lanka and the top team from Group B. Group 2: Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and the top team from Group A.
The Super 10 commences on Friday Mar 21 when India play Pakistan. The Final will be played on Sunday Apr 6.
For TV information, live streaming and up to date results visit www.theepochtimes.com. Hong Kong viewers can also watch the World T20 on Star Cricket–PCCW.