Hong Kong thump Namibia to keep ICC World Cup hopes alive
Hong Kong kept alive their chances of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup but their fate is in the hands of others as the ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand reach a climax on Thursday.
A splendid 76-run victory over Namibia in Rangiora on Tuesday gave Hong Kong hope as they face Papua New Guinea in another win-or-bust match in the final round of the Super Sixes.
But winning alone - and that must be handsomely to boost the net run rate - will not be enough as Hong Kong will need either Namibia or Kenya to pull the rug from under Scotland or the United Arab Emirates respectively in their clashes.
"We still have a shot at making the World Cup and to have come this far and still be in with a shout is in itself a huge feat," said player-coach Mark Wright. "All we can do now is focus on beating Papua New Guinea and hope the other results go our way.
"The dream is still alive. We have won four out of six matches, losing two very narrowly, and it shows how far we have come as a team," Wright said.
UAE and Scotland remain unbeaten and head the final qualifying group with six points with Hong Kong in third place on four points. If Hong Kong beat PNG, and if one of the other teams lose, it will come down to net run rate.
Hong Kong's selectors gambled on Tuesday and dropped opener Waqas Barkat and bowler Aizaz Khan and included Courtney Kruger - his first match in the tournament - with coach Wright also returning to the side.
Kruger, opening the batting with Irfan Ahmed, was bowled without scoring but fears that the bowling department would be light of a bowler were unfounded as leg-spinner Nizakat Khan and Wright combined to bowl 13 overs, conceding just 55 runs.
But Nizakat's bigger contribution came with the bat, scoring 85 in a match-winning 155-run stand for the fourth wicket with in-form left-hander Mark Chapman (82), which laid the foundation for the total of 283 for nine.
"It was a brilliant performance from these two young guys batting under pressure and this bodes well for the future, too," said Wright.
Namibia were never allowed to dictate terms and regular wickets kept them on the back foot. Haseeb Amjad, one of the leading wicket-takers in the tournament, grabbed two early wickets and then returned to pick up two more as the Africans folded for 207 in the 44th over.
"Getting to 283 was significant but we backed it up with a good bowling performance and we fielded well, too. The guys are hungry and we are all elated to be still in the running to make the World Cup," Wright said.