Abbas powers HK past Italy
Zain Abbas played an anchor role as Hong Kong got their ICC World Cricket League division four campaign off to a winning start with a convincing 46-run victory over Italy at the University Ground in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Abbas, who is beginning to flower as a reliable middle-order batsman, top-scored with a fluent 70 and figured in a key fourth-wicket stand of 76 with Hussain Butt (44) as Hong Kong reached 210 for five off their 41 overs.
The match was shortened due to early-morning rain, but skipper Tabarak Dar had no hesitation in opting to bat first after winning the toss, realising that the team who batted second would struggle on the slow turning tracks in Tanzania.
Hong Kong made a cautious start reaching 50 for two after 18 overs and then 69 for three in the 23rd over before Abbas and Butt moved the tempo up a notch by adding 76 in the next 12 overs. Ilyas Gull then chipped in with a quickfire 48 as Hong Kong ended with a respectable total - the late surge bringing 65 runs in the last 10 overs.
'It was a really good team performance,' said Hong Kong coach Aftab Habib. 'We've got a lot of character and fight in our team and Zain Abbas played an exceptional innings.'
Italy were never in the hunt as they lost wickets at a steady rate. They were reduced to 29 for three after 15 overs, 95 for seven by the 29th over, and then slumped to 139 for nine after 35.
Left-arm spinner Munir Dar was the pick of the Hong Kong bowling, finishing with figures of three for 24.
Afghanistan and Tanzania were the other victorious sides in the six-team competition. Afghanistan clinched an 80-run victory over Fiji, while hosts Tanzania defeated Jersey by 35 runs. The top two teams will qualify for the ICC WCL third division next January in Argentina and move a step closer to the 2011 World Cup.
Hong Kong's next game is against Tanzania.