It was a 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' day as Hong Kong just couldnt' force a victory against Qatar, which was theirs for the taking the moment they dismissed danger-man Tamoor Sajjad for 0 in the 35th over. At that stage, Qatar still needed 81 runs to win, chasing 175 with only four batsmen left.

In fact, another Qatar wicket fell just five runs later and with their opponents at 99 for 7, Hong Kong had the game by the throat.

That Hong Kong didn't go on to win showed the difference between streetfighters and those who, for all their merits, don't have enough 'mongrel' in them. The eighth wicket-pair of Fahim Sajjad (Qatar's wicket-keeper) and left-handed Mohammed Faiz slashed, dashed and at times came close to perilously crashing but somehow they stayed together.

Hong Kong's James Atkinson drives to long-off against
Qatar at Kelab Aman

With the required run-rate just under 5 an over, Sajjad and Faiz wrestled the game back in their team's favour scrambling runs here and there and as the partnership slowly built, Faiz playing the straight-man to Sajjad's Jerry Lewis. Sajjad lashed his way to a 57-ball fifty. He reached his 50 with a 4 which tied the scores only to be run out straight afterwards by Hong Kong's close to immaculate wicket-keeper, James Atkinson. One run needed. One ball left.

But it wasn't going to be Hong Kong's day, not even at the end. Not even with Atkinson.

Faiz scrambled the winning run, his team-mates erupted. "We had a bad day" said Hong Kong's coach, Lal Jayasinghe after the match. A day, he must fear, that could be symptomatic of others unless some fundamentals are addressed by his team.

Hong Kong v Qatar, Group A
Club Aman
Qatar won the toss and elected to field
Hong Kong: 174 for 9 off 50 overs (J. Atkinson 65, N. Lau 30; K. Khan 3-35)
Qatar: 175 for 8 off 50 overs (F. Sajjad 53; Z. Ali 3-24)


Filed August 20 2007