Anshuman Rath takes four wickets as Hong Kong seize initiative against United Arab Emirates
Home side need 377 for victory on the final day of their ICC Intercontinental Cup in Dubai
Sixteen wickets fell as Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tussled for advantage on the penultimate day of their ICC Intercontinental Cup clash, but it was Hong Kong who seized the initiative by securing a first innings lead of 197 on day three in Dubai.
Hong Kong captured first-innings honours and six points after restricting the host to a first innings total of 181, an innings deficit of 197. Debutant Anshuman Rath shone in the critical morning session as he ripped through the lower order, taking four scalps for 34 runs.
Hong Kong then added 184 runs in its second innings and the UAE batted for three overs for five runs without loss chasing 377 on the final day for victory. Coach Simon Cook said bowling was the key on day three.
“I think the partnership that Anshuman had with Nadeem was excellent, it really ripped the heart out of their batting, and it came off the back of some great work from Ehsan and Aizaz and Haseeb and Tanwir as well," said Cook.
“We identified this morning would be a crucial period in the game, and it proved that. We really put the UAE batters under a lot of pressure. And the fact that we bowled the previous evening so tight meant that when those wickets did come, the UAE hadn’t really gone anywhere. So to then dismiss them and give us a lead of 197 going into our second innings really helped us.”
The day swung on the crucial morning session, with UAE batsmen Usman Mushtaq (45) and Swapnil Patil (75) putting on a 139-run partnership before 18-year-old Anhsuman Rath snared the key wicket of Usman. The wicket proved fatal for the host, which lost the remaining four wickets for 48 runs, with Anshuman also snaring the prized scalp of Patil in his four-wicket haul.
Not to be outdone, UAE skipper Ahmed Raza took full advantage of the ball in the afternoon session, ripping through the Hong Kong batsmen to finish with figures of five for 61, the best bowling figures of a UAE bowler to date in the competition.
Hong Kong was clearly in a hurry to put runs on the board in its second innings, completing the innings in less than two sessions to finish on 184 runs all out. Babar Hayat again led with the bat, striking 73 to become Hong Kong’s leading run-scorer in the competition to date, while Anshuman contributed 32.
Cook was pleased with the way Hong Kong handled the pressure.
"There’s a little bit of pressure when you know you have to bowl the opposition out for under your score, because in this competition, you get points for first innings leads, so that was a bit of pressure there. But I said to the guys to just stick to the process that was applied so well the day before, and the result will come – it’s just a case of being patient and being able to stick in there.”
Anshuman Rath was delighted with his four-for-34 on debut for Hong Kong. “The wicket was turning quite a bit, and that does help me as a spinner. I am just glad that I can contribute in a big way to the team,” he said.
“I was having a chat to Simon Cook as to what we should do to get those batsmen out. They looked quite comfortable. So we the simple things well – we bogged them down, we tried to get as many dot balls as possible and make them make a mistake, and that is what happened. Both of them fell under the pressure.”