Butt's fiery arrows batter minnows Bhutan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am

Archery is the number one sport in Bhutan, a country landlocked between India, Tibet and China in South Asia. And it showed yesterday as the kingdom's cricketers miserably failed to come to grips with the thunderbolts sent down by Hussain Butt, who grabbed four wickets as Bhutan were bowled out for a miserly 77.

It was the dream start Hong Kong were looking for at the ACC Trophy in Kuala Lumpur. And the local batsmen piled on the misery as they knocked off the runs in 15 overs to give the SAR a nine-wicket victory in the first of their four group matches.

'It is a good start but we can't read too much into this win for they are a very weak side. Today's game gave us a chance to get our bearings right and it was more like a practice session, an easy one,' said coach Robin Singh. After the game ended, just after the lunch break, Singh had the Hong Kong team out for a more strenuous practice session.

Bhutan are the minnows of world cricket, having joined the ICC as affiliate members in 2001. Bordering the Himalayas, it comes as no surprise to learn that the entire country is mountainous barring a 15-kilometre strip of flat land in the south. Presumably, it is here that Bhutan's couple of cricket grounds are located.

'We do not have the right facilities for training. We had to go to Sri Lanka and play four games there as preparation for this tournament,' said Bhutan coach Baba Sourjah.

But having won the toss and opted to bat first, Bhutan struggled to come to terms with the turf wicket at the Royal Selangor Club, and the pace-spin combination of Butt and Nadeem Ahmed.

Man-of-the-match Butt grabbed four for 20 with his right-arm medium-pacers while Nadeem's left-arm spin earned him three for 18 off 10 overs. Afzaal Haider, Irfan Ahmed and Najeeb Amar also took a wicket apiece. Only three batsmen reached double figures, and the top score for Bhutan came from extras - 22, including 16 wides.

'Our only blemish was the number of wides we gave away. The fast bowlers tried a little too much,' said Singh.

Hong Kong captain and opener Tim Smart anchored the run-chase, remaining unbeaten on 32. Bhutan's bows-and-arrows attack was quickly blunted by teenager Irfan Ahmed, who, cast in the role of a pinch-hitter, hammered the bowling for a quick-fire 20. Veteran Rahul Sharma added the final touches with a blistering 26 not out.

'They were not the strongest of opponents,' admitted Hong Kong manager Ravi Nagdev. 'We would have liked to have batted first to get some batting practice. But still it was an ideal start to our campaign.'

Amjad Mahmood, Khalid Khan and Jawaid Iqbal sat out the first game. Hong Kong will meet Myanmar tomorrow in what should be another easy encounter. The first big test will be on Saturday when they take on Nepal followed by Kuwait on Sunday.