Ehsan Khan and Jamie Atkinson lead Hong Kong to victory over Nepal by 83 runs
Bowler takes five wickets to destroy the visitors’ innings in their ICC World Cricket League Championship clash
Veteran spinner Ehsan Khan took five wickets and Aizaz Khan snared three to rescue Hong Kong’s World Cup qualifying hopes in their 83-run victory over Nepal in an ICC World Cricket League Championship match on Friday at Mission Road.
The 32-year-old Ehsan cleaned up the Nepali tail with a damaging five for 17 in 5.5 overs, helping to bowl the visitors out for 111 in 34.5 overs as Hong Kong successfully defended a relatively vulnerable score of 194 all out in 50 overs.
Man of the match, though, went to opening batsman Jamie Atkinson who played an equally important part in the victory with his patient 76 off 117 balls helping Hong Kong to reach a measure of respectability in their innings.
Aizaz took three for 14 off six overs while Tanwir Afzal and Kyle Christie took one wicket apiece.
The victory is a boost to Hong Kong who lost twice to the Netherlands in February and boosts their chances of finishing in the top four of the eight-team standings and advance to the World Cup qualifiers in 2018. They move up one place to third and face sixth-placed Nepal in the second match on Sunday.
“It’s a great start, we felt we were slightly under par with the bat but it was a fantastic bowling and fielding performance all-round. We really put the pressure on the Nepalese batsmen and that’s what got us through in the end,” said Atkinson.
Cricket Hong Kong director of cricket Mark Wright said the players responded to coach Simon Cook’s demands during the innings break.
“Cookie asked for character at the halfway stage and they showed every part of that,” said Wright. “It was a good a fielding display that I’ve ever seen from a Hong Kong side.
“The best thing is we are in control of our own destiny. We have three games remaining and it is up to us where we finish in the group.”
Hong Kong were in trouble as early as the fourth over when vice captain Anshuman Rath was out for a duck after facing 10 balls. Captain Babar Hayat went for 29 in 26 balls after taking the score to 35 for two but after Nizakat Khan (12) and Waqas Khan (14) went, Nepal gained in confidence as Hong Kong were reduced to 109 for five.
Atkinson stood firm, however, hitting one six and nine fours. He was eventually out lbw to Sushan Bari with Hong Kong on 144 for eight.
Another ex-skipper Tanwir helped to boost the innings after Atkinson’s depature with a 42-ball 38 with three sixes. He had help from Ehsan Nawaz, who struck 16 to help boost Hong Kong’s total.
Still, Nepal would have been confident chasing their target but Hong Kong bowlers and fielders put their batsmen under good pressure and after the fifth wicket fell for 91 runs, they never looked coming near the hosts’ total as Ehsan and Aizaz began to dominate.
Watch Hong Kong v Nepal at Mission Road live