Chinese connection plays key Cup role
HONG KONG'S Chinese connection proved yesterday they are no mere deadweights in the national side, spurring the territory to a 151-run victory over Malaysia in their second match in the Tuanku Ja'afar Cup.
Given the chance, at last, to show their match-worthiness, the territory's three Chinese cricketers - Maurice Ling, Eddie Tse and Tony Correa - came up with the goods as they bowled Hong Kong to a resounding win.
The trio, the forerunners of Hong Kong cricket's future, shared five of the nine wickets to fall victim to bowlers and proved that they are fully capable of handling a big-match occasion.
True, the opposition might have been the weakest of the four teams playing in the annual Tuanku Ja'afar Cup. But that should not take away any of the gloss from their performance.
Correa, Tse and Ling are all medium pace bowlers. On a Hong Kong Cricket Club track which saw plenty of movement, they flourished. The trio sent down 23 overs between them, more than half of the innings. Correa finished with two for 18, Tse took one for 18, and Ling two for 21.
Nurtured and given guidance, they could be the foundation on which Chinese cricket can be built. They have the potential, as Hong Kong captain Pat Fordham admitted.
Thankfully, Fordham used it to the maximum advantage yesterday. Opportunities of playing for Hong Kong will be few and far between - in the initial years at least, as cricket tries to shed its colonial hangover.
Evidence of this can be seen today in the make-up of the Hong Kong team to meet Thailand in their last preliminary round game. Correa, Ling and Tse are not included.
Injury is the reason behind Tse's absence. He split the webbing in his left hand while trying to take a diving catch at extra cover. This will see him take no further part in the tournament.
Correa and Ling were expected to play today. But apparently the strong showing from the Thais yesterday, has been instrumental in a change of strategy on Hong Kong's part.
Beating Malaysia was always on the cards for Hong Kong. Thus it came as no surprise that skipper Fordham opted to bat after winning the toss.
Openers Rahul Sharma and Rory MacLeay got Hong Kong off to a solid start, putting on 149 runs in 33 overs. The bowling was tidy but lacked penetration and only a bad call saw MacLeay lose his wicket, being run out for 54.
Tim Smart and Sharma took the score to 172, before Sharma was caught behind, two runs short of his century, trying to glide a ball down to third man. His 98 came off 116 balls and included two sixes and 13 boundaries.
With 10 overs to go, Hong Kong were 182 for three. It was left to big John Storey to change the entire complexion of the game. He bludgeoned his way to 60 (six sixes and four fours) off only 27 balls.
Malaysia got off to a slow start with openers Dinesh Ramdass and Saat Jalil batting with caution. That set the tone of their innings, and once Jalil was run out, the wickets started to fall - with the Chinese chop-sticking them up.
Singapore defeated Thailand by 13 runs in the other game yesterday. Chasing a target of 241, Thailand panicked late in their innings and were bowled out for 228 in 49 overs.