New recruit Davies steers Hong Kong to Tuanku Ja'afar final
HONG KONG edged closer to a successful defence of their Tuanku Ja'afar Cup title yesterday, clinching a place in today's final with a deceptively comfortable four-wicket victory over Malaysia at the Kowloon Cricket Club.
Atoning for their Asian Cricket Council Trophy defeat against the Malaysians in October with composure and conviction, Hong Kong never looked troubled against their opponents even after losing the toss and being forced to field for the opening session.
A tight bowling performance, with both Mohammed Zubair and Javed Iqbal bagging three wickets each and Stewart Brew taking a brace, saw Malaysia all out for 212 in 49.5 overs.
In reply, Hong Kong set about chasing the total with sustained vigour and Sada Hussain and Brew battered 11 off the first over to get the SAR off to a flier.
Hussain and Brew kept the runs ticking over until M. Muniandy tempted Hussain into an aggressive slog that caught the top edge of his bat and flew skywards before plopping into the hands of the waiting Rakesh Madhavan.
A run out for Rahul Sharma for just five shortly afterwards threatened to put Hong Kong on the ropes but the arrival of Saleem Malik at the crease swung the match firmly in Hong Kong's favour.
Malik was eventually out for 51, but by that stage Hong Kong were cruising to victory, with Mark Davies leading the way.
Although Hong Kong lost the wickets of Ravi Sujanani and Nick Waters cheaply, Malaysia's bowlers were made to toil fruitlessly.
Mohana Marzook sealed Malaysia's fate in the 48th over, creaming a towering six into the balcony of the KCC clubhouse, leaving Hong Kong on 215 for six.
Man of the Match, by some distance, was wicket-keeper Davies, who looks to be a real find for Hong Kong.
Davies, who was born in Hong Kong but who has lived in Australia for most of his life, was drafted into the SAR team especially for this tournament.
On the evidence so far, his inclusion was a master-stroke.
After an opening knock of 63 during Thursday's win over the President's XI, Davies stepped into the breach once again yesterday to steer Hong Kong to victory with another confident innings, an unbeaten 63.
Davies' flawless wicket-keeping also caught the eye, and afterwards Brew was full of praise for Hong Kong's new recruit, who has so far filled the position vacated by Pat Fordham with style.
'Mark's obviously a very good player. He plays first grade in Perth so he's one of the 15 best wicketkeepers in Western Australia . . . he's got a good pedigree,' Brew said.
'We've got a lot of depth across the team.
'As a captain it's a luxury to be able to call upon eight quality bowlers in your side,' Brew added.
Hong Kong now play Singapore in today's final at the KCC. Singapore warmed up for the final with a one-run win over the President's XI at the Hong Kong Cricket Club.