Heroic century for Hong Kong from Nizakat Khan softens blow of defeat by Ireland in ICC Intercontinental Cup
Nizakat Khan became the third Hong Kong batsman to score a first-class century, but his brave effort wasn’t enough to prevent Ireland from sealing a 70-run triumph in their ICC Intercontinental Cup match in Belfast.
Hong Kong were given the task of chasing 310 runs on the fourth and final day after the hosts were dismissed for 230 in their second innings. Despite Nizakat’s 123 from 181 balls, the task proved too much as Hong Kong were bowled out for 239 in the final session.
Ireland move to the top of the eight-team I.Cup standings while Hong Kong stay in fourth place.
“I think we’ve improved a lot as a team – the guys are getting mature,” said Nizakat, who scored 69 in the first innings. “Ireland are a top team and more experienced than us – this match shows clearly that we can compete against these big teams. We are fit now and no complaints from us. We are looking forward to the T20s.
“It felt really good to make a 100 – when I came here I just wanted to score a hundred and it was an amazing feeling – it wasn’t easy but I just fought to the end. I’m happy with myself but I know I still have a lot of improvement to make,” said Nizakat, who praised the efforts of his coaches Simon Cook, Ryan Campbell and Mark Wright.
WATCH: Hong Kong v Ireland Day four highlights
Head coach Cook said Hong Kong lost the match in the first innings when they allowed Ireland to total 316.
“I can’t help but look back on that first session where we leaked 40 or 50 runs and that put us behind the game on a low scoring pitch. You can’t give them that sort of head start ,” said Cook.
“We fought valiantly in the last innings here. Nizakat was outstanding but no one played with him. In defeat we had so many positives and to bat 100 overs in the first innings and 80 overs in the second was a great effort.
“We have played some really good cricket and I think a few here were surprised as to how much of a fight we put up. I’m really happy with how we played but disappointed with the result. I was confident we could win the game after our preparation.”
SCORECARD: Hong Kong v Ireland
“This morning’s wickets set up our momentum – we thought we could chase 300 down and at lunch time we weren’t in a bad position. But a couple of quick wickets and we were back on the back foot. We felt if we could bat the whole day we would win and we were 17 overs short of that.”
“Nizakat has been working really hard on a technical change in how he combats the short ball; he’s worked really hard. He could be one of the top Associate batters in the world.”
Captain Babar Hayat and Nadeem Ahmed were the next highest scorers for Hong Kong, both with 28, with fast-medium bowler Tim Murtagh taking four wickets for Ireland. Wicketkeeper Chris Carter contributed 21.
Hong Kong and Ireland now turn their attention to two T20 matches, on Monday and Tuesday in Bready, before the tourists travel to Scotland for two one-day internationals.