HK youngsters face crunch time

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am

It's crunch time now for Hong Kong at the ACC Under-19 Cup.

Buoyed by a 138-run win over Kuwait, they face two must-win games against hosts Malaysia and favourites Afghanistan today and tomorrow.

'The equation is pretty simple. We have to win both these game if we are to stand a chance of finishing top of our pool and thus have an easier semi-final outing,' said Hong Kong manager Ravi Nagdev yesterday.

With only one side from the 10-team tournament making it through to the next qualifying round of the U-19 World Cup - the winners in Kuala Lumpur will play the winners of a European zone for a berth in the World Cup - Hong Kong have their work cut out.

But spirits are high after Tuesday's drubbing of Kuwait. Batting first, Hong Kong made 245 all out in 48 overs.

Man of the match Robbie Bacon provided the impetus with a well-struck half-century, while skipper Courtney Kruger made 46.

Kuwait were then bowled out for 107 with left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed grabbing three for 10 off his 10 overs, while John Bacon and Irfan Ahmed took a brace each.

'We know that if we put runs on the board we can beat any side. But having said that, we didn't quite finish Qatar off in the first match when they were struggling at seven for 97 chasing 174,' Nagdev said.

Qatar scored with the last ball to register a two-wicket victory.

'But this comprehensive win over Kuwait has gone some way to undoing the damage of that loss. Now we need to stay focused and win our next two games,' Nagdev added.

Hong Kong's cause was helped by Afghanistan beating Qatar. The Afghans are unbeaten and top the pool.

Unbeaten Nepal are fancied to top the other pool, with Singapore and the United Arab Emirates in contention for a runners-up berth. The top two teams in each pool will move into the semi-finals.