09 Mar 2018

Hong Kong defeat Test nation Afghanistan in ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe

Hong Kong have resurrected their ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier campaign with an historic win over Afghanistan in Bulawayo.

The 30-run win was the first victory for Hong Kong over a Test playing nation in the One Day International format.

Results in other matches now mean Hong Kong can guarantee a passage through to the Super Six stage with one win in their remaining two matches against Zimbabwe and then Nepal.

After being dismissed for just 91 against Scotland in their opening encounter, Hong Kong’s batsmen produced a much improved performance against an Afghanistan team containing the world’s top ranked bowler, Rashid Khan.

Cameos from Nizakat Khan (28) and Babar Hayat (31) got Hong Kong’s innings going but the starts meant the innings threatened to lack substance at one stage 4-93 in the 24th over.

But 20-year-old Anshuman Rath showed great determination to hold the innings together as he compiled 65 off 90 balls from number five in the order. That allowed the lower order to chip in around him but it was the final overs assault from Tanwir Afzal (22 off 9 balls) who lifted the Hong Kong target to a more imposing mark of 241-8.

In reply it was Tanwir (1-37) who gave Hong Kong the early breakthrough but at 1-56 from 15 overs, Afghanistan appeared in control.

That changed when Ehsan Khan picked up two wickets in his first over, giving Hong Kong a huge shot of belief. The off-spinner picked up his third soon after to leave Afghanistan 4-73.

From there Hong Kong continued to keep the scoreboard pressure on and the climbing rate brought more wickets when rain intervened at 7-167. Play did resume but Afghanistan only had 18 balls to chase a revised target 226.

Eshan picked up a fourth to finish with 4-33 off 9 overs as Afghanistan were held to 195-9.

Hong Kong coach Simon Cook said;

“We sat down after the Scotland game an had an honest chat and the players got together as a group and talked about what they needed to do to beat Afghanistan. Each individual identified how they were going to play and what impact they wanted to have and executed that in training yesterday. The pitch spun a lot and so it’s a credit to how our guys nullified their spin options. We trained with purpose and got results."

“240 was about par, however the pitch – spun quickly and a lot so it was a challenge for anyone going out there. We learnt from the experience of playing Rashid in Hong Kong in November and it was hugely pleasing to see the improvement.”

“We had World T20 victory against Bangladesh which stands out as our biggest – today was great but it is only one game in a tournament that means so much so we will enjoy it tonight and then refocus quickly for Zimbabwe."

Scorecard: https://www.icc-cricket.com/match/7802

Photos: International Cricket Council