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Hong Kong batters Yasim Murtaza (right) and Aizaz Khan put on 97 runs for the sixth wicket to guide their side to victory. Photo: Cricket Hong Kong

ICC Challenge League B: Hong Kong’s 5-wicket win over Kenya keeps World Cup hopes alive

  • Aizaz Khan and Yasim Murtaza put on 97 for sixth wicket as Hong Kong chase down 136-run target with nearly 100 balls to spare
  • Victory was team’s fourth in five matches in Uganda and leaves them second in table heading to final round of competition in August

Hong Kong ended their Challenge League B campaign on a high on Monday, beating Kenya by five wickets with almost 100 balls remaining.

A sixth-wicket partnership of 97 between Aizaz Khan (59) and Yasim Murtaza (39) helped Hong Kong reach the 136 they needed for victory off just 34 overs.

Murtaza had earlier taken four wickets for 26 runs, and Eshan Khan three for 27, as Kenya were bowled out in less than 39 overs, with only Irfan Karim providing any real resistance.

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The Kenyan wicketkeeper was left unbeaten on 59 and ran out of partners as his side collapsed around him after Collins Obuya, with whom he put on 48 for the third wicket, was trapped LBW by Murtaza.

His departure sparked a flurry of wickets, and Kenya went from 71 for three to 135 all out in fairly short order.

Despite chasing a low total, Hong Kong got themselves into a little bit of trouble at the start of their run chase, slipping to 40 for five, as Shem Ngoche took three wickets, including the prize scalp of Babar Hayat for just five runs. He earlier accounted for openers Jamie Atkinson (9) and Shahid Wasif (2).

Ngoche also ran out Zeeshan Ali (21) and stand-in captain Kinchit Shah (1) to leave Hong Kong reeling, before Murtaza and Aizaz Khan stepped in, guiding their side to 137 for five.

The Hong Kong cricket team pose for a picture before their side’s final Challenge League B game in Uganda against Kenya. Photo: Cricket Hong Kong

The wobble aside, head coach Trent Johnston was more than happy with his side’s performance and said he had not really been worried about getting the runs.

“It only takes one partnership to break the back of a score of 135,” Johnston said.

“What do you do [when chasing a low total], do you stick or twist, do you go for it? Jamie [Atkinson] went down and hit a beautiful lofted drive, went down the next over and missed it. Two or three overs later Shahid [Wadsif] played a shot he didn’t need to, missed it. Babar [Hayat] played onto his stumps.

“We still had Haroon [Arshad] to come in, we Ehsan Khan who’s played match-winning innings for Hong Kong before, we had depth there and just needed to get a partnership.”

Ehsan Khan spins Hong Kong to six-wicket victory over Uganda

With skipper Nizakat Khan becoming the latest member of the squad to fall ill, Shah took over, and Johnston was full of praise for his performance.

“Kinchit stepped in and did an absolutely fantastic job, his bowling changes were brilliant, his field placings were excellent, and we really applied the pressure.

“To bowl that team out for 135 on that wicket, that’s 180-under par for me, that’s a 300-run wicket every day.”

The win leaves Hong Kong second in the table, just a point behind Uganda, with the final round of the competition to be played in Jersey, who were the only team to beat Johnston’s side this time out, in August.

“To leave Uganda with four wins from five matches, I’m also pretty happy with that considering the amount of cricket we’ve played over the past 2½ years,” Johnston said.