Hong Kong squander match-winning chance
A match there to be won for Hong Kong was instead gift-wrapped and presented to the hosts the United Arab Emirates yesterday. And once again the generous givers were the SAR's batsmen, who shunned a golden opportunity to bat their opponents out of contention in the ICC Intercontinental Cup Asian zone opener.
The UAE need 41 runs with seven wickets in hand. Hong Kong's hopes were dashed when they were bowled out for 184 in their second innings leaving the UAE a modest target of 185.
'We have a very slim hope. We need a couple of early wickets tomorrow if we are to stand any chance. But once again, we had the game in our hands, but threw it away by poor batting,' said disappointed Hong Kong coach Robin Singh at the end of the second day's play.
For the second time in the match, the Hong Kong lineup failed to bat out two sessions. Adam Gunthorpe and Ilyas Gull were the only batsmen to show spirit. Gunthorpe top-scored with 46, before miscuing his drive straight to silly point, while Gull, coming in at seven, ran out of partners for the second time in the match to be stranded on 32.
Singh had called for his batsmen to produce sizeable partnerships. There was only one of any note, skipper Tim Smart (20) and Gunthorpe putting on 50 before Smart was out caught at silly point. Wickets fell at regular intervals and Hong Kong failed to capitalise on a good effort in the field to dismiss their opponents for 127.
'You can't expect the bowlers to bowl them out again for a low score. Our batting was extremely poor. A few bad decisions also went against us, but still we should have done better,' said Singh.
Manoj Cheruparambil was one of five leg-before victims in the innings. The right-hander was middling the ball well but just when he was getting into stride, he was given out to a ball which hit him high on the thigh. It was a questionable decision and his departure ended all hopes of a target in excess of 200.
The visitors began the day superbly when they got the last three UAE batsmen out for just one run. Off-spinner Gull, opening the bowling, struck with his third ball, when he enticed big-hitting Ali Asad to hole out to Nasir Hameed on the mid-wicket boundary. Three balls later, he got one to creep back in and bowl Ahmed Nadeem.
Khalid Khan wrapped up the innings when he yorked Rizwan Ahmed. Gull, who finished with career-best figures of five for 16, and Khalid (three for 24) took the honours in what was a sterling Hong Kong's fight-back.
Trying to take the initiative, Hong Kong opened with Tabarak Dar and Smart. The gamble failed as Dar was out leg-before, another dubious decision, which brought Gunthorpe to the wicket.
The stocky left-hander began in style, crashing Ali Asad to the cover boundary and was soon in his stride. But having put on 50, Smart was out and Mark Eames followed soon after. At lunch, Hong Kong were still nicely placed on 100 for three with Gunthorpe and Cheruparambil looking solid.
The rot set in soon after the lunch break when Gunthorpe was out without adding to his score. A procession followed and Gull could only watch in frustration. Singh said he had considered sending Gull up the order. 'He is an all-rounder, but be batted better than the regular batsmen,' Singh said.