Opener Waqas Barkat smashed his way into the record books when he became the first Hong Kong player to score a century in a Twenty20 international.
Barkat scored a superb 109 as Hong Kong crushed Maldives by 153 runs in the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup in Kathmandu yesterday. The victory was Hong Kong's third-in-a-row in the preliminary round, ensuring a semi-final berth.
"Waqas was brilliant. It was a superb knock and he was well supported by everyone. We never lost momentum in our innings," said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke after watching his batsmen set a massive total of 198 for four.
Barkat figured in four sizeable partnerships with Irfan Ahmed (50 for the first wicket), Jamie Atkinson (46 for the second), Nizakat Khan (38 for the third) and Courtney Kruger (59 for the fourth) before he was dismissed as Hong Kong cruised towards a huge total after being put into bat. He was run out in the penultimate over having faced 71 balls and his knock included one six and 14 fours.
All the Hong Kong batsmen had strike rates of over 100, underlining the impetus of the innings with Barkat leading the way.
Maldives was then bowled out for 45 with strike bowlers Irfan and Tanvir Afzal each grabbing three wickets with Karan Shah wrapping up the innings with a double-wicket maiden.
"What was pleasing was that we were ruthless with the ball too. It was a complete performance and a great win," Burke added.
Hong Kong have one game left in pool play, against winless Singapore today and are assured of topping the group and advancing to the semi-finals where they will meet the runner-up in Pool B. Today's encounter between Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates, both unbeaten, will decide the top two placings in this pool. "We have accomplished our first goal which was to make certain we reached the semi-finals," Burke added.
The top two teams from this tournament, apart from Afghanistan, will progress to the world qualifying competition in UAE in November. Afghanistan have already qualified. The only blight so far for Hong Kong was an injury to Daljeet Singh who has returned to Hong Kong after being struck in the mouth by a ball. His place in the squad has been filled by Adil Mehmood.