Haseeb Amjad rocks Italy on his debut for Hong Kong
Right-arm medium fast bowler takes five for 12 to spearhead win at ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers
Haseeb Amjad celebrated his debut as well as a belated birthday with a sensational spell of bowling, grabbing five wickets as Hong Kong began their ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers with a superb seven wicket victory over Italy in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
The right-arm medium fast bowler, who turned 26 on Monday, was on fire as he ripped the heart out of the Italian batting line-up beefed up by a couple of former Currie Cup players from South Africa, to give Hong Kong the perfect start to the gruelling 16-team tournament, which will decide six teams who make it through to the first stage of the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next year.
"Haseeb was just awesome. He broke the stumps on four occasions with some great yorkers and mixed up his bowling cleverly. It is as good a debut as I have seen by anyone for Hong Kong," said coach Charlie Burke.
The former Pakistan under-19 representative finished with five for 12 off his allotted four overs as Italy scrambled to 110 for eight. He got great support from Tanwir Afzal, who rocked Italy early with two wickets.
Apart from a couple of loose overs from Irfan Ahmed and Aizaz Khan, who both conceded a total of 44 runs, Italy might have been in even deeper trouble.
Vice-captain Waqas Barkat led the run-chase with an unbeaten 51 to give Hong Kong a morale-boosting two points. Together with Nizakat Khan (17 not out) he saw the team safely home with more than an over to spare.
"It's always good to get a win under your belt from the opening game for it gives you the momentum. But we have to back that up by coming out and beating Uganda [on Saturday]," Burke said.
"It was a complete performance. We perhaps gave away a bit too many runs. The wickets here are slow with a low bounce and any score over 120 will be competitive. But all in all it was a good first-up outing."