Afghanistan steal Cup from under HK's nose
Hong Kong ended their Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup campaign on the downbeat note they began it, as favourites Afghanistan stole the silverware from under their noses in a tense finale in Kathmandu yesterday.
A good bowling performance, which restricted Afghanistan to 125 all out, was undone by a panic-stricken run chase by Hong Kong, especially the middle and lower order batsmen, and Afghanistan won by eight runs.
Hong Kong had let slip a golden opportunity to strike a psychological blow over their fancied opponents before next March's world qualifiers for the ICC World Twenty20.
'We panicked a little bit,' said disappointed Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke. 'It was there for the taking and we needed to bat smart. But Afghanistan are a professional side and they showed why they figured in the last ICC World Twenty20.'
Hong Kong crumbled from a strong position, losing their last five wickets for 17 runs, including the crucial wicket of skipper Jamie Atkinson, who had anchored the run chase with an accomplished 35.
Munir Dar had the best bowling figures of his career, five for 23, three of his victims coming in the final over of the innings, but Hong Kong had to be thankful to Nadeem Ahmed, two for eight from four overs, and Aizaz Khan, one for 14, for putting a clamp in the middle overs to restrict a powerful batting line-up.
'If someone had offered me a target of 126 at the start of the match, I would have taken it,' Burke said. 'We bowled and fielded very well, but sadly our batting fell short.'
Hong Kong started their campaign with a loss to Nepal in the pool games but rebounded to sweep into the final. Sadly, they couldn't quite finish it off.