Historic win for Hong Kong: First triumph over a full member with a 30-run victory over Afghanistan in ICC World Cup qualifier
Babar Hayat’s men recover from their loss to Scotland to revive their hopes of reaching the Super Six phase
Hong Kong made history at the ICC World Cup qualifiers on Thursday with their group B victory against Afghanistan giving them a first-ever triumph over a full member nation in a sanctioned 50-over match.
The Hong Kong players bounced back splendidly after their disappointing defeat by Scotland in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to score a 30-run Duckworth-Lewis win over Afghanistan, whose third defeat almost certainly rules them out of the Super Six phase.
For Hong Kong, though, it has revived their chances of finishing in the top three of their group and advancing to the next stage.
— Hong Kong Cricket (@CricketHK) March 8, 2018
“It's a very good feeling to beat a full member side for the first time and a good feather in the cap,” said Hong Kong head coach Simon Cook. “But the tournament is continuing and we have to refocus because we have another full member team coming up [in Zimbabwe].
“The boys really stuck to their tasks. We had specific training on Wednesday with regard to how we would deal with their spinners. We had the advantage of playing on this pitch before so we knew how it would play. It was a great win for us.”
Hong Kong had previously beaten full member Bangladesh in a T20 game but this is the first time they have overcome an elite team in a full one-day international.
Hong Kong, who were bowled out for 91 against the Scots in a match they were expected to win, were more mature with the bat against the Afghans – who with Ireland last year earned test status.
Anshuman Rath hit 65 off 90 balls and opener Nizakat Khan scored 28 off 31 as Hong Kong reached 241 for eight in their 50 overs after being put into bat by Afghanistan.
Afghanistan were then restricted to 195 for nine chasing a revised target of 226 in 46 overs after rain interrupted the match.
Although Dawlat Zadran hit 40 and four fours in the penultimate over in a desperate attempt to chase down the target, Hong Kong’s bowlers had already caused enough damage to ensure they would fall short.
Ehsan Khan claimed four wickets for 33 runs while Nadeem Ahmed grabbed two for 37 and Tanwir Afzal one for 37.
Earlier, Nizakat and Aizaz Khan put on 38 for the first wicket and it looked as if Hong Kong would suffer a similar collapse as they did against Scotland when they lost three quick wickets to reach 43 for three in the 11th over.
However, captain Babar Hayat, with 31, and Rath repaired Hong Kong’s innings allowing the rest of the batting line-up to put up solid scores and set a challenging target on a turning pitch.
Scott McKechnie hit 24, Shahid Wasif 21, Waqas Barkat 18 and Tanwir 22.
Hong Kong next face Zimbabwe on Saturday at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo before taking on Nepal in their final pool game on Monday.
Hong Kong are third behind Scotland (won three out of three) and Zimbabwe (won two out of two). The top three advance to the Super Six competition from where two teams will qualify for next year’s ICC World Cup finals.
“It looks likely that two wins would be enough to go through but it’s difficult to say now and we just have to concentrate on winning our games,” said Cook.