Hong Kong have defeated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Qualifiers Final to make it to the Asia Cup main draw. This is a huge achievement for the team, given the fact that they had lost their ODI status earlier this year. They will feature alongside India and Pakistan in group 'A' in the Asia Cup which is scheduled to begin on September 15.
This will be the third Asia Cup appearance for the team. They featured in 2004 and 2008 editions as well. Here, in this article, we will take a look at their performances in each match of this tournament
#1 Hong Kong vs Malaysia, 1st Match
Hong Kong's start at the tournament was not even close to what they would have expected. The Malaysian team upset them in a low scoring thriller in the inaugural match of the tournament. Malaysia captain Ahmed Faiz won the toss and opted to bowl first. The bowlers proved their captain's decision right by restricting the opposition team for 161. Hong Kong's batsmen, barring Babar Hayat, failed miserably. Babar Hayat made an excellent run-a-ball half-century (58). Among Malaysian bowlers, Syazrul Idrus, Pavandeep Singh and Suharril Fetri picked 3 wickets each.
Chasing 162 runs to win, Malaysia didn't start well and lost his opener Anwar Arudin in the very first over. They also lost their 2nd and 3rd wicket in quick succession. But, Shafiq Sharif kept the scoreboard ticking from one end. He scored valuable 49 before getting out. Nadeem Ahmed threatened the hosts with his 4-25 but useful contributions from lower middle order batsmen took Malaysia past the finish line.
Hong Kong vs Singapore, 5th Match
After losing to Malaysia in the opening match, Hong Kong needed a win to remain alive in the tournament. Against Singapore, their captain Anushman Rath won the toss and opted to field first. The Hong Kong bowlers displayed a brilliant show, bowling out Singapore for 150 in 41.2 overs. Abhiraj Singh was the top-scorer for his team with a fighting 42. Nadeem Ahmed led the Hong Kong's bowling performance and returned with figures of 4 for 30.
In reply, Hong Kong lost their openers early. Anshuman Rath got out for a duck and Cameron McAulsan followed him soon with a personal score of 5. Hong Kong were 7 for 2 that time and the match could go in any direction from there. But Nizakat Khan's 36 and Kinchit Shah's unbeaten 47 ensured the team's victory.
Hong Kong vs United Arab Emirates, 9th Match
In their third outing, Hong Kong had to take on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who were going strong in the tournament. They had won their previous two matches. It was expected to be a close contest. However, as it turned out, Hong Kong crushed them by a huge margin of 182 runs. Hong Kong were invited to bat first after losing the toss. After losing Cameron McAulsan cheaply, Anushman Rath and Babar Hayat added 180 runs for the second wicket laid a strong foundation for a big total. Both batsmen scored centuries and helped their team post a total of 275 for 8 in limited 50 overs.
It was not easy to chase down the target of 276 and it looked like UAE batsmen didn't even give it a try. Rohan Mustafa was the top-scorer with 33 and it adequately tells how the innings folded. UAE failed to cross even 100-run mark and were bundled out for 93. Ehsan Khan was the pick of the bowlers who produced a bowling figure of 4-17.
Hong Kong vs Oman, 10th Match
Expectations were very high from this match as both teams were having a good run in the tournament. Hong Kong had won their last two games whereas Oman had it three in a row. Hong Kong won the toss and decided to field first. It was a great bowling effort by the Hong Kong bowlers to bowl out Oman for just 183 runs in 50 overs. Ehsan Nawaz, in particular, was brilliant with the ball and took four wickets in his quota of 10 overs. Mohammad Nadeem and Ahmad Fayyaz Butt from scored half-centuries.
Chasing the target of 184, Hong Kong openers started off well and the scorecard was showing 25/0 in 5 overs when the rain interrupted the play. The rain continued for enough time and match ended in 'no result'.
Hong Kong vs Nepal, 15th Match
Hong Kong were up against Nepal in their last league match. For making it to the finals, it was a must-win situation for the Hong Kong team. Nepal won the toss and decided to bat first. But, as it turned out, Hong Kong bowlers were too good to handle for them that very day. Ehsan Khan, who returned with figures of 4 for 15, was particularly responsible the collapse of the opposition batting line-up. Nepal innings folded with 93 runs on the scoreboard.
94 was an easy target for Hong Kong and they could have achieved it comfortably. However, Sandeep Lamichhane had some other plans. He took 5 wickets at the expense of just 27 runs in 10 overs and made the opponent batsmen run for cover with his majestic bowling. In the end, it was Anshuman Rath's spirited 52 which took Hong Kong past the finish line.
Hong Kong vs United Arab Emirates, Final
An opportunity to feature in Asia Cup main draw was at stake and both teams fought tooth and nail to secure that spot. It was Hong Kong who held their nerves in tense situations and qualified for the Asia's premier ODI tournament.
Hong Kong skipper invited UAE to bat first after winning the toss. Ashfaq Ahmed and Chirag Suri started cautiously and added 54 runs for the opening wicket in 12.1 overs. But Hong Kong bowlers made a comeback by taking 3 quick wickets. UAE were 65 for 3 when rain interrupted the play. The match was reduced to 24 overs per side due to the interruption. Ashfaq Ahmed smashed a brilliant 79 off 51 balls and UAE finished with 176 for 9 in 24 overs.
In reply, Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath provided a quick-fire start to Hong Kong and the score raced to 60 even before completion of 6 overs. At this point, Hong Kong lost three wickets in a quick succession and match hung in balance. Christopher Carter and Ehsan Khan added 53 important runs for the 5th wicket and stabilized the innings. With the help of short cameos from Tanwir Afzal and Scott McKechnie in the end, Hong Kong went past the finish line and sealed a spot in the Asia Cup.