Cricket Hong Kong

18 overs without a four – But Hong Kong fall to Zimbabwe in ICC World Cup qualifiers

The damage had already been done despite a brilliant late bowling display as the hosts win by a convincing 89 runs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 9:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 9:17am

Hong Kong suffered their second defeat in the ICC World Cup qualifiers on Saturday as they went down by 89 runs to hosts Zimbabwe in group B at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

Although they bowled brilliantly in the final 18 overs of the Zimbabwe innings, the hosts’ belligerent start gave them the foundation they wanted and helped them set a difficult – but reachable – 263 for nine from their 50 overs.

Anshuman Rath compiled a patient 85 off 147 balls that could have been the foundation for Hong Kong to repair their innings but wickets fell around him. Hong Kong were eventually all out for 174 in 46.5 overs against the test-playing nation.

With one victory – against Afghanistan - and two defeats against Zimbabwe and Scotland, Hong Kong must win their final game with Nepal on Monday if they are to advance to the next stage of the tournament – the Super Sixes.

“I think those [top-order] runs cost us the game,” Hong Kong’s captain Babar Hayat said. “Although, the way we bowled in the middle overs and in the last overs was brilliant.

“The way we bowled, to restrict them to under 300, we knew that if we stayed in we could chase this target. But with the way they bowled, they didn’t give us any chance to get back in the game.

“I think there are a lot of positives we can take from the game, especially with the way Anshuman Rath batted, it was brilliant. Zimbabwe is a test-playing country and it’s a big difference to Hong Kong.”

Put into bat, Zimbabwe openers Cephas Zhuwao and Solomon Mire had given their team a blistering start scoring 53 in under five overs before Zhuwao went for 45 after his 26-ball stay that featured three sixes and six fours.

Hamilton Masakadza continued the onslaught, going on to make 84 with Brendan Taylor hitting 46.

Just when it looked as if Zimbabwe would easily cross the 300 mark, Hong Kong bowlers tightened the screw as the pitch started to grip and the ball softened.

Masakadza’s six in the fifth ball of the 31st over was the last time Zimbabwe found the boundary for the rest of the innings – an excellent effort by Hong Kong bowlers to restrict their opponents to ones and twos over the final 18 overs.

Batting, again, proved to be Hong Kong’s undoing, although they were up against a test-playing team. They were two wickets down for 16 runs after 28 balls and only when Scott McKechnie joined Rath at the crease was there any stability. The pair played safe to put on 59 for the fourth wicket before McKechnie, who scored 18, was bowled by Sikandar Raza.

That sparked a Hong Kong collapse as Zimbabwe went about mopping up the innings for their third win in a row that guarantees them a place in the Super Sixes.