Historic first for Hong Kong cricket as Babar Hayat makes first-class century against UAE
Hong Kong rack up 307 for six on day one of their four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup in Dubai
A sensational maiden first-class century for Babar Hayat led Hong Kong to a commanding 307 for six at stumps on day one of their ICC Intercontinental clash against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai on Wednesday.
On a day of many firsts, Hayat’s 113 was also the maiden century for Hong Kong in first-class cricket and the highest individual score by a Hong Kong player in the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Hayat put on a 106-run partnership with debutant Kinchit Shah (62) for the second wicket and a 139-run partnership with skipper Tanwir Afzal (90 not out) for the sixth wicket, the highest sixth-wicket partnership of the tournament as well as the fourth highest overall.
Kinchit was one of four young players to make their international debut during the match, and opened the batting alongside fellow debutant Anshuman Rath (9), who timed the opening ball of the match perfectly to score a boundary. Chris Carter scored seven and Aizaz Khan was still at the crease on eight at stumps.
The loudest cheers of the day, however, were for 23-year-old Hayat, who battled through 83 overs of heavy dust and ever-changing wind to reach his milestone.
"It was great out there. Scoring 100 for Hong Kong is great. It’s the first first-class 100 for Hong Kong, and I am so proud of myself," said Babar.
However, he was quick to point out the roles of the other batsmen.
"I’m cramping a bit now and a bit stiff. I was thinking that I should play all 96 overs, but I got out to a good ball. But Tanwir has also batted well, and Kinchit has done really well, too."
Hong Kong coach Simon Cook was full of praise for the centurion.
"It’s outstanding to see someone like Babar really put their hand up like that," he said.
"We spoke in Hong Kong about what position he’d like to play, and I challenged him to come into that number three position and really make it his own.
"There are a couple of other players wanting to bat at three, so it's good competition for the squad to have guys wanting to make those positions their own.
"He’s going great guns at the moment, as well as all the other batters. We had four guys get past 50 in the Nepal warm-up game, and then Babar getting 70 against England and 100-odd here, we’ve got Kinchit who scored a half century here as well, and Tanwir who’s not out on 90, going into tomorrow. It’s looking pretty strong for us.
The coach was particularly pleased with his side’s ability to adapt to the difficult weather conditions.
“They’ve done really, really well. They’ve adapted themselves. It’s been very hot, the sun is a factor, the wind, the dust swirling around – for the guys who’ve spent that much time out there, Babar in particular, it’s a testament to his concentration and mental skills to see it through.”
Left-hander Kinchit, 19, was equally delighted with his maiden half century: "It definitely feels good to start your first class career for Hong Kong and score some runs for the team.
"I was out there for a long time but I was lucky to have someone like Babar who strikes the ball well. That releases the pressure for us. He just kept reminding me that it’s a long way to go, so I just kept batting and playing my game."