Tanzania pitches fine for HK spin
A couple of pressing issues were sorted out quickly for Hong Kong as they romped to an easy win in the opening warm-up game ahead of the ICC World Cricket League division four tournament which gets under way in Tanzania on Saturday.
Nadeem Ahmed's superb figures of six for 18 from nine overs against a Tanzania Academy XI emphasised that the wickets in Dar es Salaam are spin-friendly and will suit Hong Kong's four-pronged spin attack.
But coach Aftab Habib was also pleased with left-arm medium-fast bowler Shakeel Haq's spell of five overs which earned him two wickets as it settles the thorny problem of who would open the bowling with spearhead Irfan Ahmed.
'I was very happy with the way Shakeel bowled. He did really well and, together with Nadeem, produced a super bowling effort,' said Habib after Hong Kong eased to a 53-run victory in the first of three warm-ups before the six-nation ICC event.
Hong Kong posted 204 in a rain-affected match. Several players made useful contributions including Skhawat Ali who, coming in at number eight, top-scored with 44, Hussain Butt (43) and Zain Abbas (34). The home team were then bowled out for 149 in 35 overs with Nadeem and Haq the best bowlers.
'It was a very good performance from everyone. The wicket was wet in the morning and when it dried out, it helped our spinners and Nadeem made the most of it. He bowled with a lot of maturity,' Habib said.
Habib couldn't hide his glee that the wickets will assist his spin quartet of Nadeem, fellow-left-armers Najeeb Amar and Munir Dar, as well as off-spinner Ilyas Gull.
'We got a glimpse of what the wickets are like and I'm quite happy with what I saw. Winning our first warm-up match will give the guys confidence and we will have to continue the good work,' Habib added.
Hong Kong will play two more warm-up games before they meet Italy in the opening match on Saturday. The other teams in the tournament are Afghanistan, Fiji, Jersey and hosts Tanzania. The top two teams will advance to division three next year and move a step closer to qualifying for the 2011 World Cup.