Dar and Ahmed inspire HK win over Singapore
Left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed produced an excellent all-round performance, which, combined with a match-winning innings of 44 from Munir Dar, led Hong Kong to a superb 45-run victory over Singapore at the Asian Cricket Council Trophy in Kuwait.
Nadeem took five for 35 as Singapore, chasing a modest target of 194, were bowled out for 149. Nadeem also proved he is quite adept with the bat as he scored a crucial 28, and along with Munir Dar figured in a late rally that saw Hong Kong recover from a precarious 118 for eight.
'Nadeem bowled and batted very well, but we have to thank Munir [Dar] for posting a competitive score,' Tabarak Dar, Hong Kong's coach, said. 'Until Munir came, we were struggling, but he played a very smart innings to save us.'
Munir came in with Hong Kong having lost the bulk of their wickets with the score just past 100. But he sensibly knocked the ball around for singles and picked up the odd boundary as Hong Kong regained the initiative.
'Batting continues to be an area of concern. Apart from Munir and Nadeem, no one else put their hands up,' Dar said. 'We again failed to complete our 50 overs [Hong Kong were bowled out in 46.2 overs] and almost gave it away if not for those innings by Munir and Nadeem.'
Nadeem has picked up wickets in every match, but this time the added difference was that he also proved hard to get away.
'He has been getting three, four wickets in a game, but also proving expensive. Today he bowled with a lot of control and lived up to our expectations. He is a very dangerous bowler when he gets it right,' Dar said.
The victory kept alive Hong Kong's hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Having begun the tournament with a resounding 118-run loss to Nepal, Najeeb Amar's men have strung together successive wins over Kuwait and Singapore. They have one more pool match remaining, against Oman today.
'It is a must-win match for both of us. The equation is very simple, whoever wins will go through to the semi-finals,' Dar said. 'We have everything to play for and the good thing is that our fate lies in our hands.'
If Hong Kong defeat Oman, they are likely to finish second behind Nepal, in which case they will come up against the United Arab Emirates in the semi-final.
UAE assured they would finish top of the other group after they clinched a thrilling two-wicket victory over Afghanistan, who are likely to finish second and also make it through to the semi-final.
The UAE won with five balls to spare after passing Afghanistan's score of 217 for seven, with the in-form Saqib Ali - who hit 141 against Bhutan - leading the run-chase with an unbeaten 93.