HK hopes destroyed by Papua New Guinea
Hong Kong's 2011 World Cup dreams have ended after Tabarak Dar and his men were crushed by Papua New Guinea (PNG), losing by nine wickets in a sorry display at the Hurlingham ground in Buenos Aires.
Abject batting was once again the problem as Hong Kong crumbled to 91 all out in 42.3 overs. PNG rattled off the runs - the target being reduced to 87 due to rain - for the loss of just one wicket. They only needed 13 overs to deliver the thrashing.
'It is very, very disappointing to throw away the opportunity of a lifetime,' said Hong Kong coach Aftab Habib. 'The guys didn't show character or fight. We were not hungry enough and not tough enough.'
Eight batsmen, including skipper Dar who was dismissed for a duck, failed to reach double figures in a game they needed to win to keep alive their slender hopes of advancing to the final World Cup qualifying round in South Africa in April.
But the poor batting performance, a factor which has cropped up throughout the tournament, led to Hong Kong's downfall at the ICC World Cricket League Division three tournament.
'We needed someone to bat through the 50 overs. The wickets here are bowler-friendly and a score of 180-200 would have given us a fighting chance. But we didn't use our heads. We played brainless shots,' Habib lamented.
Hong Kong were put into bat and suffered an early blow when they lost Roy Lamsam in the first over. But it was the loss of the in-form Manoj Cheruparambil, ruled leg before, which cost Hong Kong hugely. Wickets continued to fall frequently with only Zain Abbas (18), Irfan Ahmed (10) and Ilyas Gull (25) reaching double figures.
'The top order had to do well. They had failed in the past and the lower order had bailed us out. It was bound to catch up with us at some stage, and it did,' Habib said.
PNG's openers wasted little time in setting up the victory which has kept alive their chances of finishing in the top two at the tournament. But they will have to wait the outcome of the other games between Cayman Islands and Afghanistan and Argentina v Uganda which were both abandoned due to rain.
It will be a long flight back home for Hong Kong.
'We didn't learn from our mistakes. It has to be back to the drawing board again,' Habib said.