Reward awaits HK heroes after historic win

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 August, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong's heroes will return from Kuala Lumpur to the promise of a reward after scoring a 'momentous' victory in the ACC Trophy final yesterday.

Najeeb Amar smashed a scintillating century to help Hong Kong defeat two-time World Cup representatives the United Arab Emirates, the first time Hong Kong had won the tournament which is the Asian championship for countries below the four test-playing nations.

'This is just wonderful,' Hong Kong Cricket Association John Cribbin said last night.

'The UAE is ranked seventh among the associate member countries - those just outside the test-playing nations - and to defeat them is momentous.

'The players have also ensured we will play in the next Asia Cup in 2010 and they will be rewarded. The executive committee will look at some incentive for the whole team,' Cribbin added.

Najeeb (pictured) made 100, including 10 sixes, and figured in a superb 125-run third-wicket stand with teenager Jamie Atkinson (36) which paved the way for a historic victory.

'I had no plan when I walked out,' said left-hander Najeeb. 'I just felt I should go out and play my usual game. Everything fell into place and I'm so happy. This is the best innings of my life.'

'It was a magnificent knock, one the best I have seen. He took all the responsibility on his shoulders,' said a deliriously happy coach Aftab Habib after Hong Kong chased down a target of 203 for the loss of seven wickets. Having restricted the Emirates to 243 for seven in 50 overs, Hong Kong began their run-chase in style, scoring 13 off the first over.

But rain stopped play for an hour, and when it resumed, the target had been revised under Duckworth-Lewis to 203 off 36 overs.

Hong Kong lost captain Tabarak Dar on the very first ball after the resumption of play, and at this point Hong Kong gambled by sending in Najeeb, normally a middle-order batsman.

'We took a punt with Najeeb and he showed tremendous character. It was an all-round effort and I'm so proud of the guys. I couldn't have asked for more from the them,' Habib said.

'The guys believed in themselves today. The team spirit was awesome. We have won one big tournament and I believe there is more to come.'

Najeeb had earlier taken four for 61 with his beguiling left-arm spin.

V is for victory

HK beat the UA,whose ranking among the associated member countries is 7