Solid start: Hong Kong recover to dismiss Ireland for 316 on opening day of Intercontinental Cup clash
Nadeem Ahmed takes four wickets to haul the tourists back into contention on the first day in Belfast
Spinner Nadeem Ahmed took four wickets to haul Hong Kong back into contention against Ireland on the first day of their four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup match in Belfast.
On a pitch offering turn, Nadeem picked off the hosts’ key batsmen and then all-rounder Tanwir Afzal mopped up the tailenders for his own four-wicket day as Ireland went from 124 for two to 316 all out in 86.1 overs.
Hong Kong then survived seven overs to go into stumps at 2 for no wicket at the end of a tough day for the visitors, who are still getting to grips with the four-day game.
“It was turning a lot for the first day and gradually started to turn more and more as the day went on,” said Nadeem. “When the team needs you, you need to stand up and be counted.
Watch: highlights of the opening day’s play in Belfast
“Today was the day I needed to stand up because the wicket suited me and things went well. I just tried to bowl right overs and be more consistent and it started to turn a lot.”
The I.Cup clash is Hong Kong’s first since January, when their match with Scotland was washed out at Mission Road. The eight-team round-robin tournament may have implications for associate members seeking future test status.
Ireland on their own patch was always going to be a tough challenge and home opener and captain William Porterfield and Ed Joyce racked up 53 runs in just over 12 overs before Tanwir had Joyce caught by Hong Kong skipper Babar Hayat for 26.
Porterfield went on to make 88 before Nadeem had him lbw while middle order batsman Gary Wilson fell for 95 after being caught behind by wicketkeeper Chris Carter off Tanwir.
Nadeem said coach Simon Cook’s pep talk during the lunch break galvanised the Hong Kong players, who are confident of compiling a competitive score against Ireland who have one recognised spinner in George Dockrell.
“Cooky pumped us up during the lunch break,” said Nadeem. “To bowl them out for 316 is good but we gave away about 50 runs on this wicket, which we shouldn’t have done.
“We’ve got good players of spin and Ireland only have one front-line spinner so this could be something that gives us a small advantage.
“This performance means a lot to us and to Hong Kong. We are in a good position so hopefully we can keep it going.”