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Match Report - Hong Kong vs Bahrain - APC Group Hong Kong T20I Series - 8th March 2023

08 March 2023

Hong Kong men secure victory on Day One of T20I Quadrangular Series

By Ira Gorawara

HONG KONG - Luck took Bahrain’s side as they won the toss on a green wicket used for the second time in the day. They sent Hong Kong in to bat in hopes of early breakthroughs under unfamiliar conditions.

Fortunately for Bahrain, controlling the toss meant early pressure on the Hong Kong men to execute with the bat.

Unfortunately for Bahrain, the Hong Kong side got off to a quick start with 32 runs in the first three overs, courtesy of left-handed batsman Anshuman Rath and right-handed batsman, captain Nizakat Khan.

Despite the fast start, Bahrain was able to exploit early seam and bowl disciplined lines and lengths to restrict the damage to 0/47 by the end of Hong Kong’s powerplay.

N. Khan and Rath’s partnership pursued till the culminating ball of the seventh over when Rath fell to right-arm medium pacer, captain Sarfaraz Ali. Rath miscued an attempted lofted cover drive, which instead fell snugly into the hands of Muhammad Rizwan Butt at long-off.

After the first six overs, the Bahrain bowlers squeezed the Hong Kong batsman, leading to the fall of right-hand bat Babar Hayat, left-hand bat Kinchit Shah, and N. Khan. The middle overs proved tough for the Hong Kong batsman, as they amassed 48 runs for the loss of four wickets in the span of nine overs.

Hong Kong were in danger of putting up a sub-par total as they were 4/95 after 15 overs of play. But by over 16, it was curtains up for left-hand bat Yasim Murtaza and right-hand bat Aizaz Khan. The partnership gave impetus to Hong Kong’s innings, regaining lost momentum.

With 15, 10, 18, and nine runs in the final four overs respectively, the duo mustered steam for the Hong Kong squad, sufficient enough to close out the innings at 4/153.

A. Khan, whose impactful and decisive first-innings performance ultimately contributed in his “Player of the Match” award, hit five fours, one six, striking at 161.53.

A vigorous effort by Bahrain in their opening overs with the bat was a testament to a sluggish onset of bowling by the Hong Kong pacers. Bahrain posted seventeen runs in the first over itself, followed by twenty in the third. From the other end, right-arm offbreak Ehsan Khan took an early breakthrough and affected a crucial run out.

But after A. Khan dismissed right-hand bat Imran Anwar in the fifth over with a sharp return catch, Bahrain’s momentum was halted and Hong Kong were able to build dot-ball pressure.

Crucial to Hong Kong’s success in restricting Bahrain’s scoring was their spin bowling in the innings’ middle overs, according to A. Khan.

“We didn’t start well with the ball and we need to keep that in mind,” A. Khan said. “But the way our spinners bowled in the middle overs was great. Ghazanfar, Ehsan Bhai, and Yasim Bhai contained the runs and took wickets and executed plans.”

Right-arm legbreak Mohammad Ghazanfar came into the attack in the 10th over and bowled a decisive spell. His bowling attack imposed difficulty for Bahrain as they were unable to marshal a response to his stint. He finished with figures of 3/12 in his four-over stint.

E. Khan is Hong Kong’s leading bowler in Twenty20 International Cricket with an average of 17.15. Today was another day in the office for E. Khan, as he expelled three Bahraini players and restricted the run-scoring with 3/16 in his 3.1 overs.

What A. Khan didn’t mention, however, was his own pivotal contributions with the ball. Adjoining his performance with the bat, A. Khan’s spell of 2/30 in four overs granted him the Player of the Match award. He dismissed both Anwar and right-hand bat Sohail Ahmed, both of whom gave Bahrain any pockets of hope in emerging victorious.

By the first ball of the twentieth over, E. Khan’s caught-and-bowled of Butt concluded the second game of the Hong Kong T20I quadrangular series as Hong Kong triumphed with a 15-run defeat.

“Despite rustiness, the boys never gave up and hung in there to gain this victory,” new Hong Kong coach Simon Willis said. “We look forward to another challenge tomorrow building on what we have learnt today.”

Earlier the same day, Kuwait and Malaysia faced off in the first of the seven-game T20I series. Right-hand bat Virandeep Singh posted 58 not-out to land him Player of the Match and led his side to a tight three-wicket victory in their first contest of the series.

In day two of the series, Malaysia and Bahrain take the field on Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground at 9:30 a.m. HKT, followed by the hosts encountering Kuwait for the final game of the day at 1:40 p.m. HKT.

Scorecard Link