Spin theory: Hong Kong look to bowlers to keep lid on Irish batsmen in ICC Intercontinental Cup
Hosts in strong position leading into final day of cricket play in Belfast, but the visitors are ready to fight
All-rounder Tanwir Afzal is hoping Hong Kong’s spinners can limit Ireland’s lead and snatch an unlikely victory on the final day of their ICC Intercontinental Cup in Belfast on Friday.
Ireland took a 278-run lead on the rain-hit third day as they reached 199 for six in their second innings off 51 overs.
Former captain Tanwir took two wickets with teenager Tanveer Ahmed also taking a brace as Hong Kong look to mop up the Irish innings before beginning their chase.
“After not such a good start in the first innings, I’ve bowled better and I just tried to contain the runs and bowl in the right areas,” said Tanwir. “It was great for Tanveer to pick up a couple of wickets as well, I’m happy for him. He’s a talented young bowler.
WATCH: Hong Kong in action against Ireland
“Personally, I feel our spinners have bowled well in both innings and spun the ball a lot but when the Irish spinners bowled it didn’t turn as much, so hopefully it plays the same for tomorrow. There’s a bit of movement with the new ball so our openers will need to survive.
“They will be looking for another 30 or 40 runs, but … I think we are still in the game if we can get the last four wickets quickly.”
“It was a really tough day with the weather making the ball wet and it was quite dark and tricky for batsmen and fielders to pick up the ball. Both teams are looking to win the game and hopefully the rain stays away tomorrow to give us a chance.”
Ireland maintained the upper hand on day three despite the notorious Belfast weather playing havoc for both teams. The hosts were hoping to declare on the third day but were prevented from doing so by the weather, which resulted in 45 overs being lost.
The 18-year-old Tanveer had two wickets in successive overs with short deliveries, though Ireland’s John Anderson excelled to score 59.
Tanwir took the key wicket of Gary Wilson (25), who scored 95 in the first innings while Aizaz Khan and Ehsan Khan also bagged one wicket apiece.
Ireland had scored 316 all out in their first innings before dismissing Hong Kong for 237. With one day to go and victory a tough ask, the Hong Kong batsmen will be hoping to safeguard their wickets and at least avoid defeat.
Ireland are second in the eight-team I.Cup league for associate members, while Hong Kong are fourth.