06 Dec 2017

Hong Kong secure World Cup qualifier berth with win over PNG


Hong Kong have sealed their place in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers as captain Babar Hayat helped his team to 23-run win over Papua New Guinea.

With the top four teams from the World Cricket League Championship progressing to the qualifiers in Zimbabwe next year, Hong Kong knew that a victory over PNG in one of their two matches would be enough to book their ticket.

They did that on the back of inspirational skipper Babar Hayat, who backed up his marathon unbeaten 214 against PNG in the First Class game last week with a match-high top score of 77 from 120 balls.

He shared 50-run partnerships with Anshuman Rath (37) and debutant Scott McKechnie (29) as Hong Kong built a strong platform at 177-3 with eight overs to go. But some accurate PNG bowling at the death restricted HK to 230 from 50 overs on what was a good batting surface.

In reply, Hong Kong got a dream start with Nadeem Ahmed (2-31) striking in the very first over.

Tanwir Afzal (2-32) then struck twice more and Aizaz Khan (1-37) picked up a wicket with his first ball to reduce PNG to 4-30 in the 10th over.

But Mahura Dai and Sese Bau rebuilt the PNG innings with a 98-run stand to get the Hong Kong heart-rates rising. Nadeem provided the crucial breakthrough and Hong Kong continued to chip away through the lower order with PNG keeping the required rate under control deep into the chase.

Though eventually two run-outs in the 46th over sealed the contest and Hong Kong will now play PNG in their final World Cricket League Championship match looking to potentially finish as high as second on the ladder.

Simon Cook said after the match:

"End of a long journey which started over two years ago, so to culminate now in our qualification is fantastic and we look forward to try and finish as high up the table as we can in the last game."

"The roller coaster nature of this game meant it was quite relieving to get off the field with a win."

"It’s great to get qualification but there is still one game to go and there is still a chance to finish second, which is important for the sports institute points so there's still something on the last game."

"The achievement is huge, this is our first year in the top division and to come from where we were in Division 3 to where we are now, we are up there challenging, and if results went our way in the other game we would have had a shot at first place. All of the losses that we’ve had were within our control at stages and a win in one of those and that’s the difference between potentially winning this league."

"With the population and facilities we have, this is unbelievable what the players have done against countries with far more resources and facilities. We have a young nucleus of a side and we have now retained our World Cricket League spot for the next cycle as well, which will allow them to kick on further."

"The total we got was probably 30 runs light, we were very slow in the middle of the game in rotating the strike and the boundaries didn’t come."

"Having the good start with the ball was crucial and then the partnership in the middle started to take the game away from us but a rush of blood from Dai saw him get caught on the boundary and that was the turning point to get us back in it and put the screws on."

"Babar's getting runs consistently, it was a little bit slow but it shows where he is at now in that he makes 77 and he is still a bit critical of himself so that’s an indication of how far we’ve come and that we need to do more than just making scores."

Scorecard @ https://www.icc-cricket.com/match/7111

Watch the highlights from the Wednesday's match below.