Suspended Irfan sorely missed
Hong Kong discovered that life without Irfan Ahmed is tough after they failed to defend a healthy total and lost their opening game to India in the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes yesterday.
All-rounder Irfan, suspended by the Hong Kong Cricket Association on disciplinary grounds, was missed, especially in the bowling department as the hosts failed miserably to defend 117, India reaching the target off the final ball.
'We thought it would be tough for us especially as everybody is playing for the first time in this tournament. But we went out with a positive frame of mind and just thought we will go out there and enjoy. I'm really happy with the way we performed and it is a great start to the tournament for us,' said India captain Dinesh Karthik.
Openers Babar Hayat and Munir Dar gave Hong Kong a great start as they put the Indian bowlers to the sword, flaying them to all parts of Kowloon Cricket Club. The first two overs went for 60 runs with debutant Hayat matching veteran Dar stroke for stroke.
Hayat, 19, greeted his first ball at the Sixes with a flashing cover drive then elegantly came down the wicket to clip Vignesh Ganapathy over square leg for six. The following ball he hit him straight for another maximum. At the opposite end Dar also bludgeoned the attack.
'I was stunned by the onslaught,' Karthik said. 'The previous two games, the target was 85 and 65 and I thought anything between would be a par score but they went on to score 113. And the worst part of it was that we were penalised four runs as I came in late to bat.'
With 117 runs to defend - both Hayat and Dar retiring unbeaten after surpassing 31 runs, and skipper Najeeb Amar chipping in with 24 - Hong Kong looked to be in the driving seat. But a poor over from the other new face, Amjad Haseeb, who conceded 36 runs, shifted the scales.
'Anything over 100 is a good score but we were not smart enough with the ball. I think Haseeb was nervous and rather than relaxing, tried to do too much. A little bit of panic set in,' said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke.
Hong Kong's bowlers sent down four wides and a no-ball, almost making up an extra over and this proved costly in the end as Karthik (34) Ganapathy (33) and Raju Bhatkal (31) led the run chase.
'It would have been great to have had one good over from Irfan,' conceded Burke when asked if the Player-of-the-Tournament was missed.
Irfan failed to turn up for training and was promptly dropped from the team which reached the Cup final in 2009. Going the distance will be hard for Hong Kong, who now need to beat Pakistan and South Africa today to reach the Cup quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, Sri Lanka defeated Scotland by 30 runs, Pakistan beat South Africa by 23 runs, Ireland won by five wickets over Bangladesh, Australia beat Ireland by 27 runs and, in a shock, Scotland overcame a powerful New Zealand by six wickets.