Munir Dar smacks HK's Twenty20 campaign back on track
A blistering unbeaten half-century from Munir Dar helped Hong Kong coast to a comfortable 44-run victory over Saudi Arabia and get their Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 campaign back on track in Kathmandu.
Dar (pictured) hit the first half-century of the tournament for Hong Kong, 54 off 28 balls, and found the perfect partner in Waqas Barkat, who was equally aggressive, as they piled on 58 runs off just 22 balls in a sixth-wicket liaison, which helped Hong Kong reach a healthy 151 for six. Saudi Arabia were bowled out for 107.
'It was a very good win,' said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke.
'Munir and Waqas batted very well after Courtney [Kruger] had steadied the ship.
'But we still have a lot to work on and we need to play at our best against the UAE if we are to get back into the box seat.'
The victory was a much-needed boost for Hong Kong after their opening, last-ball defeat to Nepal. That has left the team in the unenviable position of having to win all their remaining pool games to stand a chance of reaching the ICC Twenty20 world qualifiers in Dubai in March.
Everything will hinge on today's big game against the top seeds in their pool, the United Arab Emirates, unbeaten after two games. A loss would see Hong Kong's fate in the hands of others - Kuwait or Saudi Arabia would have to upset Nepal.
Well known for his prowess at the Hong Kong Sixes, Dar walked into bat with Hong Kong on 44 for four at the end of the 10th over.
Openers Irfan Ahmed and Babar Hayat were out cheaply, leaving skipper Jamie Atkinson (11) and Kruger (38) trying to set a foundation.
Unwilling to take risks, they kept the score creeping along, but wickets continued to fall with Atkinson run out, then his deputy Nizakat Khan (8) bowled going for a big shot.
'Courtney's knock allowed Munir to play his natural game,' Burke said. 'He gave a couple of chances but then made the most of it and batted very well, reverse sweeping twice for sixes. Waqas then finished it off very well.'
With the pressure on, Dar counterattacked and, with Barkat, breathed life back into Hong Kong's innings as they tore into the bowling.
Dar's 54 included six fours and two sixes, but he was matched stroke for stroke by Barkat, whose cameo knock of 25 from eight deliveries included four boundaries and a six, all but one coming from one over bowled by medium-pacer Kashif Shafiq.
Dar completed a good game, taking a wicket - he was named man of the match - as Aizaz Khan and Irfan grabbed two wickets each at the either end of the innings to restrict Saudi Arabia to 107.
'Our fielding was excellent but we still have a little bit to do in the other two departments,' Burke said.
'We gave a bit too much width in our bowling, and batting we lost the momentum every time we seemed to be on top of the opposition.
'We need to tighten it all up.'