Hong Kong batting collapse gives Afghanistan an easy run chase
Charlie Burke's men dismissed for 216 despite half-century knock from ODI debutant Hayat
A first ODI half-century from Babar Hayat wasn't enough to prevent Hong Kong from slipping to a comprehensive six-wicket defeat by Afghanistan in their opening match in the ACC Premier League in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Hayat, one of seven players making their one-day international debut, hit a fine 53 but his departure in the 45th over sparked a collapse as Hong Kong lost their last six wickets for 11 runs to be dismissed for a sub-par 216 at the Bayuemas Oval.
"It is disappointing for we had such a great platform going into the last few overs, but at the end we were probably 30 to 40 runs short," said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke.
It was a wretched batting performance from the middle and lower orders. From being well-placed on 205 for four, Hong Kong would probably have been looking at a competitive total of around 250. But once Hayat, who hit two sixes and six fours, was out - caught at long-on trying to pull fast bowler Dawlat Zadran - the rest of the batting folded tamely.
"It was a good knock from Babar. The guys have nicknamed him 'The General' simply because he gets the job done. He was initially picked for Hong Kong for the Twenty20 version but has matured quickly. It was a shame no one else could bat around him," Burke said.
Afghanistan easily reeled in the score in 43 overs, with their chase aided by five dropped catches, including veteran Samiullah Shenwari, who was dropped at first slip off Irfan Ahmed when he hadn't scored. Shenwari went on to hit a brisk 43 and together with youngsters Usman Ghani (70) and Hashmatullah Shaidi (38 not out) led the top seeds to an easy victory.
"We fielded poorly. To drop five catches against a side who are going to the World Cup next year is criminal. We didn't bowl well from both ends [either]," Burke said.
Having been put into bat, Hong Kong's top order all made starts but failed to carry on. Opener Irfan Ahmed got off to a trademark blazing start with a run-a-ball 37 before his ambition got the better of him and he fell to a catch in the deep.
Sakhawat Ali (28), who opened the innings with Irfan, was more sedate but was next to go, lured out of his crease and stumped with the score on 80. Skipper Jamie Atkinson (28) used the sweep shot against the spinners to good account but it also proved his downfall as he was leg before wicket to a ball which crept below his defence, while Nizakat Khan (24) was also deceived by the off break of Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi.
"At the end of the day it was a poor performance all round from us. We needed someone to bat through the innings if we were to reach 250," Burke added.
"But this is a young team with seven guys making their ODI debuts. It is a learning curve for them."
Hong Kong play Oman on Friday.