Hong Kong take wooden spoon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 October, 2005, 12:00am

Hong Kong ended at the bottom of the heap in the ACC Fast Track Countries Tournament after crashing to an eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Singapore at the Kallang ground yesterday.

Once again it was poor batting which let the SAR down. Resuming on their overnight score of 51 for three, their batsmen failed to buckle down to the task of occupying the wicket and were bowled out for 108 just after lunch, leaving Singapore with the simple task of scoring 50 runs to win in their second innings.

And this the home team did with ease, completing a comprehensive victory well before the tea interval. It was a rout considering that almost two sessions had been lost to rain.

'We just did not bat well enough,' said manager Lal Jayasinghe. 'There was nothing wrong with the wicket. Our batting was poor. There were no partnerships and a number of batsmen threw away their wickets.'

Fast bowler Afzaal Haider was named the man of the match for his battling 66 in Hong Kong's first innings and haul of six for 52 in Singapore's first innings. But it was small consolation. 'It was a one man show. None of the other players rallied around him. We needed the top order to bat like him but they failed to do so. If not for Afzaal, the match would have been over well before lunch today,' said a disappointed Jayasinghe.

Hong Kong captain Tim Smart top-scored in the second innings with 41, but he was cast into the role of King Canute trying to hold back the tide. Smart's was the first wicket to fall yesterday when he was out lbw just before lunch with the score on 78, after play had started two hours late due to rain.

The rest of the batsmen failed to cope with Singapore's spin attack led superbly by Christopher Janik and wickets fell at regular intervals.

Tabarak Dar, who survived a dropped catch early in the day, batted for 145 minutes and faced 114 balls for 19, but his effort was in vain as wickets kept falling at the other end. Dar and Manoj Cheruparambil took the score from 78 to 98 in 12 tense overs before the latter was out caught, becoming one of Janik's four victims. His departure signalled the end with the last five batsmen being dismissed for the addition of 10 runs.

Needing 50 to win, Singapore were home and dry by the 12th over.

It has been a huge turnaround in fortunes for Hong Kong. Last season they finished runners-up to the United Arab Emirates in the five-team competition. This time, they ended last after losing to the UAE, Malaysia and Singapore. The SAR managed to force a draw with Nepal, and that too thanks to rain interfering.