HONG KONG ADVANCES

ACC Trophy Elite 2008
Hong Kong v Singapore

Hong Kong's Zain Abbas

Hong Kong won their final group-match, in what was virtually a quarter-final against Singapore, by 93 runs to go through to the semi-finals of the ACC Trophy Elite, where they will face Afghanistan on Friday.

Their success was due to a 158-run partnership for the fifth-wicket between Zain Abbas  and Shkwat Ali which took Hong Kong from a tormented 25 in the 10th over to a comfortable 183 in the 42nd.

When the two young batsmen first came in, Singapore were very much on top. Their pace-bowlers bowling a regular series of absolute wicket-to-wicket pearlers on a wicket of considerable bounce which had both batsmen under considerable pressure. Pressure rcan't get through a water-tight defense however, and Abbas and Ali could not be penetrated. James Atkinson aside, the preceding batsmen had played some "absolutely diabolical" shots to get out, according to their coach Aftab Habib.

If Atkinson, Abbas and Ali are the next generation then Hong Kong cricket has a decent future. They all played exemplary cricket. "Hong Kong have a wealth of batting but it's just not applied regularly," says Habib, "too many shots are played in the first ten overs and that costs us. Luckily today we had Zain and Shkwat."

Sunil Gavaskar used to say that 'the first half hour of the day belongs to the bowler, the rest of the day should belong to me'. Today the first thirty overs were ceded to Singapore by Abbas and Ali as they calmly, sensibly eked out runs. 95% of their scoring strokes during that time came behind square, as they simply relied on deflecting the pace and lift of Singapore's Pramodh Raja, Muhammad Ali and Shoib Razzak to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Hong Kong's Shkwat Ali

After the 30th over, however, with the spinners on and the wicket easing up, Abbas and Ali opened out. Singapore really did not want to chase anything more than 160 as they would have had to chase down any Hong Kong total within 24 overs when they batted if they were to go through on a superior Net Run-Rate. From 99 after 30 overs, however, Hong Kong raced to 255 after 50. Abbas and Ali passing 50s (Abbas after 95 balls, Ali after 91), they raced on after that. Following their dismissals Moner Ahmed kept the momentum going with some audacious strokes.

Hong Kong's Moner Ahmed

The wicket had become much easier as the sun beat down on what was another blazingly hot day in Kuala Lumpur. Singapore went for it from the start of their innings. They went for it but they also went. Needing to score at 11 an over, they scored at seven an over for the first fifteen overs but for the loss of six batsmen. Once Hong Kong's spinners came the fall of wickets slowed down, but so did the run-rate. After the 24th over Singapore were 126 for 7 and heading for the 5th/6th place Playoff on Friday against Malaysia.

Singapore's Christopher Janik

Hong Kong bowled well themselves and did some terrific work in the field and would in all likelihood have won even if Singapore hadn't had to press so hard so early. "We've got some crafty cricketers who sometimes surprise even me," says their coach.

Group B

ACC Trophy Elite 2008
Hong Kong v Singapore at Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur
HONG KONG WON BY 93 RUNS
Singapore won the toss and elected to field
Hong Kong: 255 for 9 off 50 overs (Z. Abbas 80, S. Ali 83; M. Ali 5-45)
Singapore: 163 off 34.2 overs (G. Meyer 35; N. Amar 3-34)
Man of the Match: Zain Abbas (Hong Kong)

Scorecard

Filed July 30 2008