HK 'beaten but not disgraced'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 July, 2004, 12:00am

The 'Rawalpindi Express' Shoaib Akhtar was missing. But Pakistan still took the fast track to victory when they scored a massive 173-run win over Hong Kong yesterday. The loss brings to an end the SAR's moment in the sun.

'It was a good experience for Hong Kong. We were beaten but we were certainly not disgraced. To score more than 150 against one of the world's best bowling attacks is a commendable feat,' said skipper Rahul Sharma after play finally ended on a rain-affected day at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

The Pakistani bowling attack did not miss the world's fastest bowler Akhtar. Hong Kong may have.

On one hand the misfiring Hong Kong batsmen would have heaved a silent sigh of relief. But more probably, they would have been disappointed for the once-in-a-lifetime chance of meeting Akhtar was dashed.

Who knows what the score might have been with Akhtar and Mohammed Sami bowling in tandem. Their bowling attack might not have been quite as world-class as Sharma perceived. But the batting certainly was.

And Hong Kong were made to pay in spades, earning the dubious honour of conceding the highest ever total in the 21-year history of the competition to Pakistan, who scored a huge 343 for five after electing to bat first.

Obviously skipper Inzamam ul-Haq wanted to give his batsmen as much practice before the business end of this six-nation tournament gets underway tomorrow. By then Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates will be winging their way home leaving Pakistan, the defending champions, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to battle it out for the title.

And Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik made the most of the opportunity as they took the Hong Kong bowlers to the cleaners, figuring in a record 223-run third wicket partnership for the Asia Cup, one which also resulted in the highest score in this tournament since it began in 1983.