Hong Kong edge nearer to final spot
From ALVIN SALLAY in Kuala Lumpur
HONG KONG got in some good batting practice yesterday before the weather pushed them closer to booking their expected berth in tomorrow's final in the Tuanku Ja'afar tournament.
Captain Pat Fordham must have heaved a huge sigh of relief when rain interrupted Thailand's innings after just five overs had been bowled.
Thailand had been set a target of 234 in 49 overs. But with the overcast conditions, the more realistic goal was achieving a score of 96 in 20 overs - the necessary overs which Hong Kong had to bowl for a result to be declared.
But thankfully, after just five overs had been sent down, rain, which had twice stopped Hong Kong's innings, came down in a steady drizzle forcing the players off the field.
At this stage, Thailand were 25 for no loss, and well above the required run-rate of 4.75. Going on this form, and the fact that the side batting second is at an advantage when the weather comes into play (Thailand with all 10 wickets in hand, needed only another 71 runs in 15 overs), it seems that Hong Kong were fortunate to finish the day sharing the points with Thailand.
The match was officially abandoned at 4.30 pm yesterday. So with hardly any effort, Hong Kong took two points and are now poised to enter tomorrow's final.
They meet Malaysia in the last preliminary round game today. On paper and on form, the territory should have no problem defeating the hosts. This will leave Thailand and Singapore battling it out to win the right to meet Hong Kong in the final.
Having been put into bat, Hong Kong got off to a slow and shaky start, losing their first three wickets for 67 with 20 overs gone. A painstaking innings of 20 in 58 balls by opener Mark Eames did not help Hong Kong's cause and when Rahul Sharma, the century-maker against Singapore, was bowled by a ball which skidded through, the territory were in a bit of trouble.
But Martin Lever, who has excelled so far on this trip, and Fordham set about restoring order with a fourth-wicket partnership on 90 in as many deliveries.
Fordham currently having struck a rich vein, was at his attacking best, hitting 48 off 44 balls before being dismissed with the score on 157. The steady and purposeful Lever completed a fine half-century and then lost his concentration to be bowled.
The rest of Hong Kong's batsmen were dismissed trying to boost the run-rate and it was left to Ravi Sujanani, the other player to shine on this trip, and Bharat Gohel for some last-gasp heroics.
Sujanani hit a unbeaten 36 in 37 balls, and with last man Gohel, added a valuable 32 runs which gave Hong Kong's score respectability. But their efforts were not needed in the end.
The bad weather also affected the other game between Singapore and Malaysia.
At the Junior Tuanku Ja'afar tournament in Ipoh, Hong Kong got off to a sound start when they defeated Malaysia by 47 runs.