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Cricket Hong Kong

Hong Kong advance to 50-overs World Cup qualifiers after victory over Papua New Guinea

A 23-run win in Dubai ensures Babar Hayat’s team finish in the top four of the World Cricket League Championship

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 10:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 10:02pm

Hong Kong beat Papua New Guinea by 23 runs in their ICC World Cricket League Championship clash in Dubai on Wednesday, in a 50-over match that had a number of important ramifications for the senior team.

Victory ensured Hong Kong finished in the top four of the eight-team table, which gives them a place in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in March.

And if they can beat the same opponents in the second match on Friday, they could finish second in the table behind the Netherlands – enhancing cricket’s hopes of retaining their place at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. Advancing to the World Cup qualifiers could also strengthen Cricket Hong Kong’s case for another four-year cycle of funding from world governing body ICC – to the tune of US$1.5 million.

Captain Babar Hayat led the way again for Hong Kong with a team-high 77 in 120 balls with one six and five fours – following up on his double century against PNG in their I-Cup victory last week.

Hong Kong totalled 230 for eight in their 50 overs and then bowled PNG out for 203 in 47 overs after having them in trouble at 29 for four before stifling a dangerous recovery.

Nadeem Ahmed, Tanwir Afzal and Ehsan Nawaz had two wickets each while Aizaz Khan and Ehsan Khan snared one apiece.

Sese Bau (59) and Mahuru Dai (60) put PNG back on track after their early collapse but once they were out, Hong Kong regained the advantage.

The Netherlands cannot be caught at the top, which means they qualify as the 13th team for the ICC’s new one-day league featuring the world’s leading cricket nations.

Hong Kong are fourth behind PNG and Scotland in the table and must hope the Scots lose or have a no result in their final match against Kenya on Friday to stand a chance of finishing second.

“It’s the end of a long journey which started over two years ago, so to culminate now in our qualification is fantastic and we look forward to try and finish as high up the table as we can in the last game,” said head coach Simon Cook.

“The roller coaster nature of this game meant it was quite relieving to get off the field with a win. It’s great to get qualification but there is still one game to go and there is still a chance to finish second, which is important for the sports institute points so there’s still something on the last game.

“The achievement is huge, this is our first year in the top division and to come from where we were in Division Three to where we are now, we are up there challenging, and if results went our way in the other game we would have had a shot at first place.

“All of the losses that we’ve had were within our control at stages and a win in one of those and that’s the difference between potentially winning this league.

“With the population and facilities we have, this is unbelievable what the players have done against countries with far more resources and facilities. We have a young nucleus of a side and we have now retained our World Cricket League spot for the next cycle as well, which will allow them to kick on further.”