HK at bottom of table after 43-run loss to PNG
Alvin Sallay in Dubai
Hong Kong will need to beat a powerful Namibia in their final round-robin match to stay in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Two after losing a third game in a row, against Papua New Guinea, yesterday.
PNG, beaten twice by Hong Kong in Division Three in January, turned the tables superbly with a 43-run victory which left Hong Kong, Bermuda and Uganda at the bottom of the standings with two points each. United Arab Emirates top the standings with eight points, followed by Namibia on six and PNG on four, with one more round to play.
Even the presence of Munir Dar, who finally got his visa and arrived 45 minutes before play began yesterday, could not inspire Hong Kong who paid the price for allowing PNG to reach 217 for eight after being limited to 66 for two in the first 25 overs.
'Fortunately, a few results have gone our way and we still have a chance of finishing in the top four,' Hong Kong head coach Charlie Burke said. 'We've been getting a lot of lives, I hope we can make use of it.'
Poor cricket all round, especially in fielding and bowling, cost Hong Kong dearly. At one stage it looked as if PNG would be lucky to post a total of 180-plus, but Hong Kong let the game drift away in the middle overs.
Aizaz Khan and Irfan Ahmed bowled tight opening spells to restrict PNG to just 24 from the first 12 overs. Aizaz, bowling a beautiful line, finished his spell with the superb figures of none for 20 off 10 overs.
Irfan was replaced by Nizakat Khan. The leg-spinner, who started as a part-time bowler, now has a frontline role - after his match-winning four-wicket haul against Uganda in the opening game - and was in fine fettle as he, too, bowled 10 overs unchanged to finish with two for 29.
Halfway in the PNG innings, Hong Kong conceded a mere 66 runs. The wickets of Kila Pala and Asad Vala fell, both off the bowling of Nizakat.
But then the tide turned. Opener Christopher Kent, who made a painstaking 27 off 77 balls, moved up a gear. Kent kept one end going and ensured that PNG did not lose too many early wickets. That paid off as the run rate gained pace.
In the next 25 overs, PNG added 151 runs. Skipper Najeeb Amar was the most costly. Although he grabbed four wickets, three on leg before, he had 55 runs from nine overs. Fellow left-arm spinner Dar was equally expensive conceding 30 from four overs. Between them they gave away 85 runs in 12 overs.
Nizakat top-scored with 54 and Najeeb, who opened the innings made 35. But the rest of the batting disappointed as Hong Kong was bowled out for 174.