Hong Kong crash out of World Twenty20
The nightmare run continues with a second successive defeat in the group stage, this time losing by seven wickets to Afghanistan
Hong Kong's dream of rubbing shoulders with the big boys of world cricket is over.
Their nightmare run at the ICC World Twenty20 tournament continued as they slipped to their second successive defeat in the group stage, losing by seven wickets to Afghanistan on Tuesday.
"We have not held up our end of the bargain," said a crushed Hong Kong head coach Charlie Burke, referring to the fact that associate countries had to make the most of the limited opportunities that came their way to feature on the world stage.
"We just didn't perform anywhere near to what we are capable of," Burke said. "We didn't do our basics well once again under pressure."
Hong Kong failed to defend a modest total of 153 for eight, and made it easier for their opponents in the run chase, missing two dolly catches, both from top scorer Mohammed Shahzad, as well as an easy run-out which enabled Afghanistan to set the foundation for victory with two overs to spare.
"We were about 20 runs short of a competitive total and then our fielding was poor. It is inexcusable to drop someone like that who then goes on to make a big score," said Burke.
Afghanistan opener Shahzad made the most of his reprieves. He scored 68, the highest score made by an Afghan in a run chase on the international stage, perhaps underlining the fact that Hong Kong failed to apply pressure on fragile opponents.
The burly right-hander gave his first chance when on 24 he skied Haseeb Amjad to long-on where Aizaz Khan missed a sitter. In the previous over, Irfan Ahmed, fielding at mid-wicket, missed the easiest of run-outs when he failed to hit the wicket at the bowler's end from less than a metre away, giving batsman Asghar Stanikzai a let-off.
Those misses proved costly as Hong Kong lost momentum to allow Afghanistan, buoyed by two half-century partnerships for the second and third wicket, to easily chase down Hong Kong's total.
Skipper Jamie Atkinson had won the toss for the second time in a row and this time opted to bat. But once again Hong Kong got off to the worst possible start when opener Irfan was out for his second successive golden duck, bowled off the first ball by left-arm quick Shapoor Zadran.
"It is unfortunate that Irfan has been at the receiving end of two very good balls at the start of both our innings in this tournament," Burke said. "Irfan is crucial in our batting plans and that was a crucial dismissal."
Yet, it was a better batting performance than the dismal 69 all out against Nepal two days ago, but Hong Kong was still left ruing the fact that they could not capitalise on a good start given by the top order - skipper Jamie Atkinson (31), Waqas Barkat (32) and Mark Chapman (38) which had lifted the total to 102 for three in the 13th over.
At this stage a total of 170 or 180 was looking good but Hong Kong's much-vaunted big-hitters all failed to get going as they limped to 153. Munir Dar, banned from bowling but included in the side simply due to his prowess at finding the boundary failed in his first appearance at the tournament.
Babar Hayat and Nizakat Khan briefly flattered, hitting a four and a six respectively but were both dismissed before they reached double figures. Tanwir Afzal hit a six and a four off successive balls but was out going for another big hit.
"We batted well for the first 10 overs but we didn't have any set batsmen who hung around," said Burke, referring to Waqas and Chapman who were both out to tired shots after they had figured in a 60-run partnership for the third wicket.
In their run chase, Afghanistan still needed 35 runs with four overs left, but Aizaz Khan went for 24 runs in the 17th over with Shafiqullah Shafiq taking a liking to his medium-fast bowling by hitting him for three sixes to signal the end for Hong Kong.