Asia Cup Qualifier: Hong Kong beat UAE to book Asia Cup place
UAE have missed out on playing at a home Asia Cup after losing out to Hong Kong by two wickets in the Qualifier final in Malaysia.
Hong Kong will now play matches against India and Pakistan in Dubai later this month, after winning with three balls to spare in a rain-abbreviated match in Kuala Lumpur.
The UAE finished their 24 overs on 176-9. The target for Hong Kong was then marginally revised up, to 179, by the Duckworth-Lewis method on account of a lengthy rain break.
When the shower hit, UAE were 65-3 off 15.2 overs. The fact they scored 111 in eight overs after the break gave them a fighting chance.
Ashfaq Ahmed top scored. The opener’s innings of 79 was similarly-paced either side of the rain delay.
Although no other batsmen registered a significant score thereafter, most did their bit. Shaiman Anwar injected some momentum into the pursuit of quick runs with 22 in 14 balls. Mohammed Usman made a quick 16, and Adnan Mufti and Mohammed Naveed each hit their first delivery for six.
Abdul Shakoor did the same off the last ball of the innings, meaning UAE had something to defend. Aizaz Khan was Hong Kong’s hero with the ball, as he picked up 5-28.
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The Hong Kong chase started at a rapid rate, though. Between openers Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath, they had reached 53 for no loss after the five-over power play.
At that point, UAE might have feared they were about to succumb to the curse of Kinrara Oval. Ten years ago, at the same ground, the national team had lost the equivalent fixture, the ACC Trophy final, against the same opposition at the same ground in very similar circumstances.
Back then UAE were beaten by an inspired Hong Kong side, who chased after a lengthy rain break. Only two players remain from that game – Nadeem Ahmed for Hong Kong and Rameez Shahzad for UAE. Each might have had that in mind as the rain came down.
The national team hit back, though, with four wickets for 18 runs in a little over three overs. That included the prize wickets of Rath and Babar Hayat, who had each scored centuries in Hong Kong’s massive win in the corresponding fixture in the pool phase.
Ahmed Raza led the rally. The left-spinner, who is also one of the outstanding fielders in the side, affected a direct-hit run out to dismiss Kinchit Shah, then bowled Rath.
Hong Kong reasserted the ascendancy, only to wobble again after a comical run out. Chris Carter, who was anchoring the chase, had to go when Rameez ran him out after he almost completed two runs, while the non-striker barely even left his ground.
Hong Kong stabilised, though. Scott McKechnie saw his side over the line with 14 not out off 11 balls, and victory was secured when they ran a bye with the scores level on the third ball off Amir Hayat’s final over.