Dar guides HK into Twenty20 final
Munir Dar, the 'dad' of the Hong Kong team at 37, produced another match-winning performance yesterday to propel his team into tomorrow's Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 final in Kathmandu.
Dar (pictured) scored 76 not out to spearhead a three-wicket win over Oman in their semi-final. Hong Kong, who are already assured of a berth in the world qualifiers for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, now meet Afghanistan in the final.
Victory looked a long way off when the team, chasing 143 for victory, stumbled to 74 for six at the end of the 12th over. But Dar, who has been in fantastic touch with both bat and ball, did not panic and, with Aizaz Khan, guided Hong Kong home.
Dar's unbeaten 76 included three sixes and eight fours and earned him his third man-of-the-match award. The veteran cannily bided his time before blasting the ball all around the Tribhuvan University grounds on a chilly day.
'He batted beautifully. Everyone can learn a lot from him, not only as far as batting and bowling is concerned but also from the desire he has to win,' Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said.
As in the previous game against Kuwait, Hong Kong got off to a bad start in their run chase, losing both openers Irfan Ahmed and Babar Hayat cheaply.
Things got worse when skipper Jamie Atkinson was run out and he was quickly followed by Courtney Kruger given leg before, to leave Hong Kong on 55 for four. There was a recovery of sorts as Nizakat Khan joined Dar and put on 19 runs. But two wickets in successive balls - Nizakat and Waqas Barkat - swung the game back into Oman's control.
'We didn't bat well and threw our wickets away. At that stage we needed someone to take control and Munir did this,' Burke said.
'Six months ago, he was dropped from the national team and promised to prove the selectors wrong. And he has done that in this tournament. He has shown everyone that he is still one of the best cricketers in Hong Kong.'
Dar found the perfect foil in teenager Aizaz Khan as the pair resurrected Hong Kong's hopes with a superb 67-run partnership.
Khan was out on the brink of victory, but fittingly Dar hit the winning runs, a boundary.
'He was in tears after the game. It was a fine knock and his desire to win was what pulled us through,' Burke said.