Irfan Ahmed’s explosive 100 takes Hong Kong past Canada
Talented all-rounder blasts 100 from 53 balls as Hong Kong cricket team stay perfect at World Twenty20 qualifiers
Irfan Ahmed couldn’t have timed his first century in international Twenty20 any better as Hong Kong, lifted by his magnificent innings, crushed Canada by 53 runs on Monday to register their third consecutive win and remain unbeaten at the ICC World Twenty20 cricket qualifiers in Abu Dhabi.
The hard-hitting opener, who turns 24 on Tuesday, was in scintillating touch as he crunched a powerful 100, smashing the Canadian bowlers to all parts of the ground in a knock strangely described as “very disciplined” by coach Charlie Burke. It was the first hundred by any Hong Kong batsman in the Twenty20 version of the game at this level.
“The stats might show otherwise but Irfan’s innings was controlled. He chose the right ball to hit out of the park. It was a chanceless knock, a very disciplined effort.” said Burke.
Irfan’s knock included eight sixes and four fours. A batsman for whom hitting sixes is almost second nature – in 2009 he was named Player of the Tournament at the Hong Kong Sixes – his explosive innings left the opposition bowlers shell-shocked. Of his runs, 64 were from boundaries. “I got a couple of starts in the first two games but didn’t carry on so I decided today that I would play each ball on its merit and it paid off,” Irfan said. “I’m pleased that it was against Canada who are ranked above us and have played at a World Cup.”
Together with Waqas Barkat, he put on 102 for the opening wicket before the latter was dismissed for 31. Irfan continued merrily and when he was dismissed in the 18th over, Hong Kong had reached 154 with 100 of those runs coming off his bat from just 53 deliveries.
Hong Kong went on to make 168 for five. It was too tall a target for Canada, who struggled to 115 for eight.
To add the gloss on early birthday celebrations, Irfan grabbed two of the wickets to fall with Munir Dar finishing with the best figures of four for 17.
“It is a terrific result. It is all good beating sides like Uganda and Italy but the real measure is playing against teams like Canada. This win will give the boys a lot of self-belief and they now realise they can do it,” Burke added.
Hong Kong’s initial target was to win the first three games in the preliminary-round competition, and that has been achieved. Jamie Atkinson’s men will face their first stern test on Tuesday against hosts United Arab Emirates, with Namibia, Ireland and the United States still to come.