Report by Richard Lockwood, CAT

We had our first surprise result of the tournament as Qatar beat defending champions Hong Kong to become the first team from Group A to reach the semi-finals of the ACC Under 19 Elite Cup.

Hong Kong and Qatar met in a top of the table contest in Group at Gymkhana Club in Chiang Mai. Both teams had won two matches out of two but it was Hong Kong who took first blood.

Winning the toss and choosing to bowl first, Hong Kong claimed their first wicket with the second ball of the match, Aizaz Khan dismissing Taha Mohammad caught behind before a run had been scored.

Qatar were taking the attack to Hong Kong's impressive opening bowlers as Omar Ishtiaq came down the wicket to Niaz Ali and hit him for a straight six, while left-hander Saad Khan hit Aizaz Khan for four through the covers. The openers were laying the base for a good total.

Hong Kong made their first bowling change after 12 overs with the introduction of Max Tucker, who took a wicket in his first over as he troubled Saad Khan with his bounce and had him caught behind for 21.

With Qatar captain Tamoor Sajjad, with two fifties to his name already, at the crease we could have a decisive passage of play ahead of us. Omar Ishtiaq was brilliantly caught by Kinchit Shah off the bowling of Niaz Ali for 16 to leave the score on 45-3 after 14 overs

Qatar reached 51 for 3 by the first drinks break with Tamoor Sajjad again looking a class player as he struck two boundaries early in his innings

The match was still in the balance with left-handed Mohammad Mirza giving Tamoor Sajjad good support, but Hong Kong were keeping the run-rate down to three an over after 25 overs.

With Nizakat Khan bowling to Tamoor Sajjad, we had a contest between the two outstanding players on show in today's match and the early honours went to Tamoor as he hit a six onto the golf course to bring up the fifty partnership and the 100 also came up in the 31st over.

Tamoor Sajjad was on the verge of reaching his third fifty in successive matches when to his amazement his drive was gratefully clutched by the bowler Nizakat Khan to bring relief to Hong Kong. Tamoor was dismissed for 49 to leave the score on 119 for 4 in the 35th over.

Qatar's innings completely lost momentum after the loss of the captain and Mohammad Mirza followed him back to the pavilion after being fatally tempted by the off-spin of Kinchit Shah.

The Qatar lower-order looked tentative against spin and they had quite a job on their hands to revive the innings

Qatar were looking to lift their total towards the 200 mark with the batting power-play still to come. Opening bowler Aizaz Khan was brought back but keeping the spinners going may have been a better option.

The batting power play was taken and Qatar went for their shots. An extraordinary run out produced the seventh wicket. With both batsmen mid pitch the bowler hurled wildly and hit only the umpire but the ball was quickly transferred to the wicket-keeper's end to leave Talal Ahmed the man run out and the score on 161 for 7.

Two more wickets soon fell in the quest for runs as catches were skied into the outfield, Max Tucker and Niaz Ali the bowlers who benefited.

The innings came to an early end with another catch in the deep off Simandeep Singh and a total of 168 would still make for an engrossing contest as Hong Kong were bowled out for 157 by Singapore in their last match.

A early booking for the semi-finals beckoned for one of these teams so we would have an engrossing afternoon's cricket ahead of us.

Hong Kong made a steady start thanks to Vikash Gope and Sagar Chandra who were looking composed in pursuit of a target of 168 but they lost their first wicket to Omar Ishtiaq's first ball of the day when he caught and bowled Vikash Gope and worse followed when Kinchit Shah promoted up the order after a sensible innings in the last match was run out to leave the score on 41 for 2 in the 14th over.

Hong Kong reached 54 for 3 after 18 overs at drinks with Nizakat Khan and captain Miten Khatri at the crease.

Hong Kong were now in trouble with five wickets down for 68. Miten Khatri was caught behind off the bowling of Omar Ishtiaq and Jason Lui quickly followed. Nizakat Khan was still there and was joined by Aizaz Khan but Hong Kong still need more than 100 to win.

After 25 overs Hong Kong's score stood on 78 for 5 with their two best players at the crease. Nizakat and Aizaz who both played for Hong Kong in the recent World Cricket League had a job on their hands and Qatar were anxious to take another wicket soon.

Hong Kong's 100 came up in the 30th over as Nizakat and Aizaz were both looking dangerous, Nizakat calming his side's nerves by hitting an impressive straight six.

The match took another turn when Aizaz Khan was caught at extra cover off the bowling of Farhad Qureshi to leave the score on 105 for 6. We would be in for an exciting finish.

The wicket-taker Farhad Qureshi was kept on for another over but did not enjoy similar success as both batsmen hit him for sixes.

Niaz Ali tried to repeat his six in the previous over only to be stumped far out of his crease to leave Hong Kong on 124 for 7, with Nizakat on 36.

The match would surely be decided in the personal battle between Nizakat Khan and leg-spinner Tamoor Sajjad who immediately brought himself in to the attack. Nizakat responded by hitting the Qatar captain for six. This was the recipe for gripping cricket.

Nizakat was keeping his head admirably and playing the occasional big shot. His third six carried his score to 49 and a comfortable single brought him to a well-crafted 50. Max Tucker gave him sensible support as 28 runs were needed with 3 wickets left.

But the crucial wicket came for Qatar when Nizakat Khan as he was caught behind off the bowling of Zohaib Aslam for 51. Suddenly Hong Kong were facing a surprise defeat on 144 for 8.

We now had the most exciting game of the tournament as tail-enders Max Tucker and Simandeep Singh had the chance to make a name for themselves

Hong Kong moved closer to victory as Simandeep Singh hit a boundary off the Qatar captain. Tamoor Sajjad was in his last over and time was running out but he struck back by bowling Max Tucker and then having last man Suhaib Ahmad caught at slip by Ali Ishtiaq off the last ball of his 10th over.

He caught the ball and ran off the field as the Qatar team began their celebrations. The two Hong Kong batsmen had turned to stone at the crease.

Qatar had won by 11 runs to book their place in the semi-finals while Hong Kong will need to win their match against Malaysia at Gymkhana on Sunday.

Tamoor Sajjad was Man of the Match for his innings of 49 and figures of three for 37. Every time his side needed a wicket he brought himself on and so it was fitting that his two wickets in his final over clinched a memorable victory for Qatar.

ACC U-19 Elite Cup 2011

Group A: Hong Kong v Qatar at Gymkhana
Hong Kong won the toss and elected to field
Qatar: 168 all out off 48.3 overs (Tamoor Sajjad 49; Max Tucker 3-36)
Hong Kong: 157 all out off 43 overs (Nizakat Khan 51; Tamoor Sajjad 3-37)
Man of the Match: Tamoor Sajjad (Qatar)

Photos by Eric Little

Tournament page

Filed February 4th, 2011