HK come up short in Twenty20 qualifiers
Hong Kong's licence to thrill is turning out to be a dud, as the batsmen produced another limp display to gift Canada a comfortable eight-wicket victory in the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers.
Head coach Charlie Burke has given his top order a free hand to go for the shots, especially in the opening six powerplay overs when the field is in, but it didn't work against Nepal on the first day of this competition, nor again yesterday as Hong Kong were bowled out for a meagre 81.
A number of batsmen, including opener Irfan Ahmed, threw away their wickets when a more tempered approach might have worked better.
This might force Burke to re-think the strategy, with Hong Kong on the ropes, having lost two out of their first three games. The remaining four pool games include encounters against top seeds Afghanistan and the Netherlands in the 16-team tournament, which will decide two berths at the ICC World Tweny20 in Sri Lanka in September.
'We had too many soft dismissals and this has not given us a chance to build a platform,' Burke said. 'Yes, the plan is to make the most of the powerplay overs, but it doesn't mean you have to throw away your wicket.'
Irfan is a perfect example of this. A splendid half-century in the eight-wicket victory over Bermuda the previous day must have raised his belief that he could take on any bowler, and the sight of Ugandan-born Henry Osinde, who looked as if produced from the template of a hostile West Indian fast bowler from the 1970s, must have raised his hackles.
Irfan stepped out to hit the second ball he faced and skied to mid-on for a comfortable catch.
Fellow-opener Babar Hayat did likewise but was fortunate to get two early reprieves before going on to score top with 36.
Skipper Jamie Atkinson, whose unbeaten 87 led Hong Kong's run-chase against Bermuda, must have been regretting his decision to bat first after winning the toss when he was caught on the long-on boundary to leg-spinner Junaid Siddique.
In his following over, Siddique claimed the wickets of Courtney Kruger and Nizakat Khan. The heart had been ripped out of Hong Kong's batting, which only saw one other batsman, Roy Lamsam, reach double figures. Canada chased down the target with six overs to spare.
'The batsmen must learn to be smarter, and when the powerplay doesn't work, they should opt for Plan B,' Burke said.