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Hong Kong fall to Zimbabwe in opening ICC Twenty20 World clash

Chasing their opponents’ total of 158 for eight, they are left 14 runs short despite brave batting from Jamie Atkinson and Tanwir Afzal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 9:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 11:04pm

Hong Kong fell short by 14 runs in their bid to beat test nation Zimbabwe in their opening ICC World Twenty20 cricket match in Nagpur yesterday, despite some brave batting from opener Jamie Atkinson and captain Tanwir Afzal.

After putting Zimbabwe in, Hong Kong bowled tightly before a late flurry by Elton Chigumbura gave their opponents a strong total of 158 for eight off their 20 overs.

It was a challenging target but within Hong Kong’s capabilities. However, a slow start gave them too much to do in the later overs.

We did well in the middle overs, and I thought we could chase this. Credit to Zimbabwe. We were in position to keep them under 150, it is a positive sign for us
Hong Kong captain Tanwir Afzal

Atkinson, who appeared to be hobbling with an ankle injury, scored 53 off 44 balls – his first international half-century – with two sixes and four fours while Afzal was 31 not out from 17, with a six and three fours.

“We did well in the middle overs, and I thought we could chase this,” said Afzal. “Credit to Zimbabwe. We were in position to keep them under 150, it is a positive sign for us.”

Only the top team from each of the two first-round groups advance to the second round against the big teams. Hong Kong also take on Scotland and Afghanistan in group B.

Hong Kong got the first breakthrough in the third over when in-form Hamilton Masakadza made a schoolboy error. The captain was too casual running to the crease and was run out by a direct throw from Babar Hayat, with the batsman hover-boarding barely an inch from the ground.

Richmond Mutumbami was then caught at long on by Nadeem Ahmed off Tanwir, with Zimbabwe at 38 for two in 4.2 overs – two wickets down but at a decent run rate.

A hint of panic then creeped into the Zimbabwe line-up as Sean Williams dragged a widish Afzal delivery on to his stumps with his team on 53 before Sikandar Raza was run out by Ryan Campbell after more slick work from Hayat.

Zimbabwe were 62 for four but were able to rebuild through man of the match Vusi Sibanda (59) and Malcolm Waller (26), with the pair taking the score to 123 before the latter was caught by Kinchit Shah off Aizaz Khan. Sibanda followed soon afterwards, caught by Mark Chapman off Aizaz.

Zimbabwe were 127 for seven with two overs left and it appeared as if Hong Kong would restrict them to under 150 runs but Chigumbura’s late onslaught of 30 from 13 balls enabled the Africans to set Hong Kong a challenging total.

Afzal was the pick of the bowlers, doing well to concede 19 runs from his four overs, while capturing two wickets.

Aizan Khan also grabbed two wickets while Campbell and Nadeem Ahmed had encouraging bowling spells.

Hong Kong needed four overs to reach 15 runs in their innings, whereas Zimbabwe were 16 after two overs in their innings. Although they were able to keep their wickets largely intact, losing only two for 74 runs at the end of the 13th over, the runs were coming slowly for Hong Kong, putting pressure on batsmen to hit boundaries.

After Aktinson was caught in the 17th over, it was Afzal’s turn to take over the big-hitting role. However, as wickets fell steadily around him, Afzal and Aizaz needed 23 runs from the final over. It proved too much and Zimbabwe could breathe a sigh of relief.