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Match Report - Hong Kong vs Singapore - ACC Men's Premier Cup 2023 - 18th April 2023

19 April 2023

Hong Kong finds victory in first game of ACC Premier Cup


KATHMANDU, NP - With two points on the board after day one, the Hong Kong men have positioned themselves top of the table.

Confident in his squad’s ability to chase down a sum, Hong Kong’s captain Nizakat Khan used his luck with the coin to declare a bowl-first decision, sending Singapore in with the wood early on and extracting any early morning assistance for his bowlers.

And it worked.

Hong Kong’s opening bowler Ayush Shukla’s early wicket squashed any potential of a promising partnership between Singapore’s opening duo. A steady five overs to commence the innings was halted as Surendran Chandramohan missed his line and gave way for the leather to hit the timber.

Left-arm off-spin bowler Yasim Murtaza was the first of Hong Kong’s spinners to endeavor with the ball, not long before right-arm off-spin bowler Ehsan Khan joined in on the act. E. Khan’s maiden opening over was followed soon after by a double-wicket effort in the 18th over of the innings. In doing so, Hong Kong’s leading wicket-taker dismissed Singapore’s skipper Aritra Dutta and Sighand Srikanth, who departed for a duck.

Two more E. Khan dismissals suddenly saw Singapore just past the 150-run mark with all but one wicket down in their culminating ten overs. After leg-spin bowler Mohammad Ghazanfar enticed Kalimuthu Ramesh to a big swing, it was the end of Singapore’s efforts as the ball found well-positioned Babar Hayat at long on.

Hong Kong’s bowling unit ensured their opponents couldn’t bat out all 50 overs as they put batsmen into the sword one after the other. A relatively inadequate total granted the Hong Kong batsman ease in their run chase, one that required just 3.5 runs per over as they looked to hit the 175-run mark.

Hong Kong saw a drift in their usual destructive duo of Anshuman Rath and Niazkat Khan, this time seeing a 132-run partnership between N. Khan and Babar Hayat, who posted 108 of his own by the game's end.

Hayat announced his arrival to a dominating innings with a boundary on his first ball. It was a Hayat favorite: a cut shot that got on top of the bowler’s bounce, getting Hong Kong’s ‘run-machine’ off the mark.

From the fall of Rath in the sixth over to the end of the 31st, Singapore saw no answer to Hong Kong’s performance with the stick. “Captain Khan” raised his bat to salute his first half-century, setting the tone beautifully for the tournament. His dismissal came soon after his 50-run mark, ending his innings of poise and control and the 132-run partnership between Hayat and himself.

Walking on the pitch next was left-hand batsman Kinchit Shah, whose role became simply supporting Hayat as he completed Hong Kong’s run chase in style and vigor, a Hayat classic.

With back-to-back sixes in the 33rd over, Hayat marked the first century of the ACC Premier Cup and reminded the contenders of the cup of the talent and power they will each soon encounter.

Hayat added a third six to the tally, bringing Hong Kong to a tied score of 174. An effortless single run followed and won it for the squad.

Hong Kong has started its campaign for the ACC Premier Cup trophy with a victory behind a masterly batting show by the Player of the Match, Hayat.

“It’s a dominating win,” N. Khan said. “The first win gives our team lots of confidence and momentum that will be important to carry forward to our next games. We have worked hard on our fitness at our pre-tour in Sri Lanka under very hot conditions, making this environment slightly easier and keeping us in good shape.”

Coin flies up next on April 21 for Hong Kong, as they take on UAE at 9:00 a.m. at Mulpani Cricket Stadium.