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Babar Hayat was named man of the match for his 86 from 45 balls against Papua New Guinea. Photo: Cricket Hong Kong

T20 World Cup qualifiers: Hong Kong grab first win as Hayat blows Papua New Guinea bowlers away

  • Babar Hayat scores 86 off 45 balls as Hong Kong chase down target of 185 at Bulawayo Athletic Club
  • Victory not enough to lift Hong Kong into top two of Group B as Netherlands and PNG go through to semi-finals

Babar Hayat’s brutal display of clean hitting helped Hong Kong chase down a target of 185 to beat Papua New Guinea in their final group game at the T20 World Cup qualifiers on Thursday, but it just wasn’t enough to get them into the semi-finals.

In a thrilling run chase that went down to the final ball of the match, Shahid Wasif saw his side home by two wickets for their first win of the tournament.

Defeat did not prove too costly for PNG, who finished second in Group B on run rate after the Netherlands thrashed Uganda by 97 runs. Hong Kong’s victory left them third in the table.

PNG and the Netherlands now move onto the semi-finals alongside Zimbabwe and the United States, with the finalists earning places at the T20 World Cup later this year.

The main reason Hong Kong were in a position to win at all was Hayat’s 45-ball 86, which included six fours and seven sixes, most of which cleared the boundary rope at the Bulawayo Athletic Club by some distance.

There was plenty of support too from Zeeshan Ali (42), who came in when his side were wobbling at 78 for four and put on 80 with Hayat for the fifth wicket.

But the pair departed within four balls of each other in the 17th over. Hayat was first to go, caught at long-off by Lega Siaka off the bowling of Kabua Morea (three for 34), and Ali followed in exactly the same fashion leaving his side on 162 for six.

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Wasif (12*) though was not about to let the game slip from Hong Kong’s grasp, and he hit Norman Vanua for a towering six in the next over, and the 10 that came from it in total put his side within sight of a victory that seemed highly unlikely at the halfway stage of the game.

Before Hayat laid waste to the PNG bowling attack, Tony Ura had done the same to Hong Kong’s, scoring 83 from just 33 balls in a blistering innings that was as calculated as it was devastating to any chance Hong Kong had of improving their net run rate enough to jump into the top two spots in Group B.

Building on the platform laid down by Siaka (21) and Charles Amini (37), who put on 38 for the second wicket, Ura joined Amini at the crease with the score 53 for two at the end of the seventh over.

Twelve balls later PNG were 76 for two, with 20 runs coming from Yasim Murtaza’s second over and with the rest of the bowling attack getting similar treatment PNG raced into three figures, Ura had 26 off just nine balls at one stage.

Amini’s wicket did little to slow the onslaught, and PNG were 149 for three when Sese Bau was out at the end of the 16th over.

In many respects the 17th and 18th overs in both innings were turning points. At that stage PNG looked on course to get 200, but Ura went for one big hit too many and was caught at long-off by Hayat off the bowling of Aizaz Khan.

The next over Ehsan Khan took the wickets of Riley Hekure and Hila Vare, putting the breaks on the PNG innings as Asad Vala’s side stumbled to 164 for seven. Ehsan Khan was the pick of all the bowlers, finishing with three wickets for 19 runs from his four overs.

In reply, Hong Kong never got behind the run rate, but lost early wickets as Aizaz Khan and Nizakat Khan tried to get their side off to a fast start. Then came Hayat, and like their Hong Kong counterparts PNG’s bowlers struggled with their line and length and paid the price.