HK left to count the cost after loss to Afghanistan damages their chances

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong will meet bottom-placed Cayman Islands ruing the fact that they failed to take maximum points from their opening two games at the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in Buenos Aires.

Having defeated hosts Argentina by seven wickets in the opening match, Hong Kong couldn't follow it up with a second victory as they narrowly went down by 13 runs to Afghanistan.

'The boys are hurting after Afghanistan. They know they should have won that game which would have put us in the box seat,' said Hong Kong coach Aftab Habib. 'We are now in a position where we can't afford any more slip-ups. It's do or die now.'

Hong Kong fought back twice against Afghanistan. On the first occasion, it was left-arm spinners Nadeem Ahmed and Najeeb Amar who pulled the side back into contention after the Afghan openers Karim Khan and Shafiqullah Shafaq had put on a quick-fire 72.

Nadeem (two for 23) and Najeeb (two for 35) put a clamp on the scoring rate, and were supported by Roy Lamsam (three for 33) and Munir Dar, who went wicketless, but only conceded 32 runs from his 10 overs as Afghanistan were bowled out for 201. Irfan Ahmed also grabbed three wickets, but at a cost, going for 62 runs.

'We did well to peg them back. At one stage, I thought we would be chasing in excess of 250,' Habib said.

The run chase began disastrously with wickets falling at regular intervals as Hong Kong stumbled to 90 for eight. But a fantastic 49 off 38 balls from Munir, including three successive sixes off spinner Mohammed Nabi, raised hopes of a dramatic victory.

Munir was out going for another big hit, but last man Nadeem Ahmed took up the challenge, and made a rapid 27, only to be dismissed by Nabi when a top-edged hook was caught on the boundary.

'The top order has to carry the blame for poor shot selection,' Habib said. 'Although Munir and Nadeem gave it a go, we left it too late.'

An all-round team effort had given Hong Kong the perfect start to the six-team competition when they defeated Argentina. Wicket-keeper Jamie Atkinson starred with seven dismissals, including two stumpings, as Nadeem grabbed three wickets, while Munir and Najeeb took a brace each. Lamsam, Irfan and Ilyas Gull also chipped in as Argentina were dismissed for 107. Hong Kong were 66 for three before Zain Abbas (34) and skipper Tabarak Dar (13) completed the win in the 28th over with an unbroken stand of 43.