Hong Kong urged to bounce back after crushing defeat

Coach Charlie Burke encourages players to show what they can do after suffering stage fright in their World Twenty20 opener

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 10:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 12:41am

Hong Kong must show the world they can compete with the big guns after suffering stage fright on the opening day of the ICC World Twenty20, coach Charlie Burke said.

Their abject capitulation to Nepal on Sunday, by 80 runs, was blamed on a failure to handle the pressures of being on the world stage in front of millions of people on television.

With two more games in the group stage left, against Afghanistan today and hosts Bangladesh on Thursday, Burke has urged his side to bounce back quickly and try to salvage their pride.

"We have got to play without fear and soak up the atmosphere," Burke said. "This performance was really disappointing, but it is not a true reflection of what we are capable of. We have to remain positive and get on with the job. We are a good side and must show the world what we can do."

In one of the worst performances in recent years, Hong Kong were bowled out for 69 as they chased 150 for victory. If the batting was dismal, the bowling and fielding were no better with three catches grassed and eight wides sent down.

"Nerves got the better of us," skipper Jamie Atkinson said. "This was a big game for Hong Kong, but at the end of the day Nepal handled the pressure better than we did.

"Playing on the big stage got to us. The big crowd, the game being televised all contributed to the pressures. It was really disappointing how we played, but at the end we have to admit that they performed better than us."

In a previous warm-up game against Zimbabwe at the same ground, Hong Kong chased down a bigger total as the bowlers struggled to grip the ball made slippery by the late-night dew.

But that dew never materialised, with organisers having mowed the outfield allowing Nepal's left-arm spin duo of Basant Regmi and Shakthi Gauchan to rip the heart out of the batting as they grabbed six wickets between them. Hong Kong lost their last seven wickets for 11 runs.

"Our batting let us down. The bowlers did well to keep the target down, but we didn't turn up today with the bat," Atkinson said. "All we can do now is to come back strongly in our next two games and show the world that we are not a bad side."

Two key moments went against Hong Kong. The first came during fielding when Tanwir Afzal dropped a sitter that gave Nepal skipper and danger man Paras Khadka an early reprieve - he went on to make 41 and figure in a key partnership of 80 for the third wicket.

The second was when opener Irfan Ahmed was out on the first ball of the innings, caught behind off Khadka.

"We now face a do-or-die situation against Afghanistan who like us were blown away in their opening game", said Atkinson.

Meanwhile, Ireland recorded a stunning three-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in group B yesterday. Ireland reached 164-7 off the last ball after Zimbabwe had scored 163-5.

In the other group B match, the Netherlands chased down the UAE's total of 151 all out, making 152-4 in 18.5 overs.