Hong Kong cricketers' Sixes agony
The measure of Hong Kong's progress over the years at the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes was illustrated by the crushed looks on the faces of the home team as they watched the Pakistani batsmen annihilate a toothless Sri Lankan bowling attack and end their hopes of progress into the Cup final.
Pakistan romped to victory, robbing Hong Kong of the chance of a back-door entry into the final. It was agony and frustration writ all over - but Hong Kong skipper Jamie Atkinson bravely put up his hand and admitted that they couldn't blame anyone but themselves.
"At the end of the day, the lads realised we were not good enough to win our last two games and had to depend on other results. We should have made it easier and won rather than have to depend on other results," said 22-year-old Atkinson.
"But our disappointment also reflects how far we have come as a team in this tournament. Now we are disappointed at not getting into the final," Atkinson added.
Hong Kong began the day with a 2-1 win-loss record from Saturday's pool games, but ended yesterday's round-robin Cup competition with a 1-2 win-loss score, their sole success being over Sri Lanka.
Losses to Pakistan and South Africa left the hosts relying on a misfiring Sri Lanka pulling off a win over Pakistan. It never materialised.
The day had begun brilliantly for Hong Kong as they chased down 96 to give Sri Lanka a wake-up call. The island nation, who had finished Saturday as the only unbeaten side, didn't heed that call as they crashed out in their other two games, too.
The only Sri Lankan to emerge with his reputation intact was Chamara Kapugedera, and Atkinson and company must have been praying his batting would help them out of a hole.
Hong Kong had dug it themselves by failing to chase down 95 against Pakistan and then failing to defend a similar total against South Africa. The loss of early wickets against South Africa, including Hong Kong's impressive Babar Hayat, cost them hugely, while a poor bowling display was the reason they lost to Pakistan.
Atkinson, making his Sixes debut, was still upbeat. "We had a good unit of six players who all contributed, and while we are disappointed at not entering the final, and possibly winning it, I think we did well," he said.