Emirates prove too hot for HK once again
Hong Kong, failing to bat to their potential and playing against a side who played the best match of the tournament, were beaten once again by the United Arab Emirates as the SAR failed to advance to the final of the Asian Cricket Council Trophy in Singapore yesterday.
The UAE delivered another devastating blow to the SAR, winning a one-sided match by 87 runs at the Kallang Ground. It was the second time Hong Kong had found the UAE too strong, losing to the same team in the final of the ACC Trophy in Sharjah in 2000.
UAE will meet surprise finalists Nepal, who scored a stunning 25-run victory over Group B winners Malaysia, in tomorrow's final.
Hong Kong will return home tomorrow thinking what might have been as they were given another lesson of tight bowling and fielding by the UAE, who batted first despite Hong Kong winning the toss.
Openers Asim Saeed (55) and Arshad Ali (42), followed by Mairaj Khaliq (41), laid the foundation as the UAE amassed 280 for seven in their 50 overs. It was a mountain too high for Hong Kong to climb.
The UAE took two quick wickets in succession in Alex French and Tim Smart as Hong Kong failed to mount any serious assault on the target, capitulating to 193 all out.
'They played us out of the game. They had a stranglehold and Hong Kong's scoring rate was very slow. We had to play cautiously after losing the first two wickets. But basically the runs per over kept on mounting. The target was too heavy for us,' said Hong Kong manager Yarman Vachha.
'We bowled reasonably well and we thought 280 wasn't too steep as we have seen 300 runs scored on the same ground. We got off to a slow and shaky start. After French and Smart were out in quick succession, that put the pressure on David Mallinson and [skipper Rahul] Sharma, who still did well with a partnership of 63.
'But the UAE fielded and bowled very tightly. They played extremely well and that's the best I have seen in the tournament. It's very disappointing to lose but considering all the injuries we have had, we did well to get into the semi-finals,' he said.
'I think the UAE will beat Nepal in the final. They have played well throughout the tournament and I suspect they will win.'
Despite losing to the UAE in the semi-finals of the ACC Trophy this year, Hong Kong can still take heart in the fact that they have still qualified for the Asia Cup in 2003, tentatively set for Colombo, Sri Lanka, having reached the ACC Trophy final in 2000.