Hong Kong fall short as old foes UAE steal the show
City still advance to Super Sixes of World Cup qualifiers but rue loss of two valuable points
Familiarity breeds defeat as Hong Kong discovered in their final outing in the preliminary pool A competition at the ICC World Cup qualifiers as old foes United Arab Emirates pulled off a 22-run victory in Queenstown, New Zealand, on Thursday.
Hong Kong still advance to the Super Sixes but will rue the fact that a jittery run chase resulted in two valuable points, which could make the difference between qualifying for the 2015 World Cup or not, being lost.
The familiar figure of left-hander Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, thwarted Hong Kong of their hopes of finishing top of pool A with an unbeaten record. Khan smashed 78 as UAE batting first reached a formidable 249. And when in-form opener Irfan Ahmed failed to reach double figures for the first time in the tournament, being dismissed in the sixth over, Hong Kong struggled to set a platform despite brave knocks from Mark Chapman (59) and Babar Hayat (46 not out) and were dismissed for 227.
"We didn't execute our game plan that we had put together and in all areas we were short of the standards that we pride ourself on," said coach Mark Wright. "The team is in good shape and we look forward to the upcoming challenges in the Super Sixes against Kenya, Namibia and Papua New Guinea."
A victory would have allowed Hong Kong to advance to the Super Sixes with four points in their pockets and needing possibly just one win to advance to the World Cup. Instead Scotland and UAE joined them in the final stages - all with two points.
Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson was disappointed but remained optimistic for the rest of the tournament.
"Obviously we're very disappointed to lose today after three pretty convincing performances. It's a shame we couldn't win and take those points through with us," said Atkinson. "The Super Six stage is going to be tough. All the teams that have made it through deserve to be there, but three games in six days will really test everyone."
Hong Kong did well to restrict UAE, who from 185 for four in the 38th over were bowled out for 249 with Haseeb Amjad wrapping up the innings with a hat-trick. Irfan's early dismissal failed to see anyone else step up and play a commanding knock and the run rate crept too high.
"It is a wonderful feeling. We played superbly, and we take the two points from today's win through into the next round. That's really important," said elated UAE skipper Khan.
In the other pool Kenya pulled off a sensational run chase to knock Netherlands out of contention.
Hong Kong's first game in the Super Sixes will be against Kenya on Sunday.