Day 5: Singapore Confirmed As Champions And Hong Kong Beat Malaysia To Finish Second
Singapore and Hong Kong are the two teams from the ACC Eastern Region T20 who will take part in a four-team competition to determine the final qualifying place in the next Asia Cup that will be held in Pakistan. Singapore won the Eastern Region competition held in Bangkok while Hong Kong finished second after beating Malaysia by six wickets in the last match of the competition. UAE and Kuwait will also take part in the next stage which will take place in Malaysia in August/
The last day of the ACC Eastern Region T20 was staged at TCG in Bangkok with two intriguing matches set to be played. In the morning leaders Singapore were looking to make it four wins out of four against Nepal who were hoping to gain their second victory and a chance to finish third. In the afternoon, Hong Kong were facing Malaysia with the winners gaining a place in the next stage of qualifying for this year’s Asia Cup.
Overnight rain had left the outfield and square too damp to even start the first match of the day, so Singapore were confirmed as the winners of the ACC Eastern Region T20 when their match against Nepal was abandoned without a ball bowled. The umpires called off the match at 11.50 and the teams were awarded one point each which meant that Singapore finished top of the table on seven points, while Nepal had to be content with fourth place on five points.
Skies cleared in the late morning and the sun was shining so the stage was set for an exciting contest between Hong Kong and Malaysia with a place in the next stage of qualifying for the Asia Cup at stake. The toss was delayed until 1.30 pm and a full length 20-over match was set to start at 2.00 pm.
Malaysia won the toss and elected to bat first aware that runs on the board were a precious commodity with five of the eight completed matches in this competition being won as a side successfully defended a three-figure total. The highest successful chase so far had only been 86 and Malaysia may have had the psychological advantage as they had won all five matches in the recent series against Hong Kong played at Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur. Hong Kong had played some good cricket in this tournament and would have been looking to put the record straight
Aizaz Khan opened the bowling against openers Virandeep Singh and Anwar Arudin and he claimed an early wicket as the hard-hitting left-hander Anwar was caught at deep point by Kinchit Shah. Virandeep hit a six in the next over as Kinchit took the ball and Khizar Hayat batted confidently when he came in at number three as Malaysia reached 41 for one after six overs with Virandeep on 25 and Khizar on 14.
Hong Kong’s spinners have all bowled well in this tournament and after the powerplay off-spinner Ehsan Khan bowled in tandem with left-arm spinner Aftab Hussain. A fierce drive from Virandeep brought up the fifty and Khizar hit a boundary to post the fifty partnership but he was caught at deep square leg next ball by Kinchit as Aftab Hussain took his eighth wicket of a very successful tournament.
Malaysia were 56 for two as captain Ahmad Faiz came to the crease. Waqas Barkat came on to bowl the tenth over and with the last ball claimed the prized wicket of Virandeep who was caught at long-on by Nizakat for 30 from 33 balls. Malaysia were 60 for three at the halfway stage and Hong Kong beginning to take control.
Left-hander Syed Aziz hit Aftab for six over mid-wicket and Ahmed Faiz followed with a six and a four off Ehsan Khan. He looked to have cleared the mid-wicket again but the fielder running round from deep square leg was able to flick the ball back to long-on and Nizakat Khan took his second catch. Ahmad Faiz was out for 17 and Malaysia were 89 for four.
Kinchit Shah returned and bowled a steady over, conceding four singles and Aftab Hussain changed ends to bowl his final over. There were big appeals for a caught behind off Syed Aziz but Aftab Hussain finished another excellent spell with one for 23 from his four overs as he claimed eight wickets for 71 in the tournament. Malaysia were 99 for four from 16 overs.
Malaysia’s hundred came up from the second ball of the 17th over but Syed Aziz and Aminuddin Ramly were struggling to find the boundary until Syed Aziz hit Aizaz Khan for four and then rocked back to hit him over mid-wicket for six. End of innings specialist Haroon Arshad would bowl two of the last three overs and he is an awkward customer as Aminuddin Ramly found out as he spooned the ball to short third man.
Malaysia were 114 for five and much depended on Syed Aziz but Kinchit took his third catch as Aziz was dismissed for thirty. Malaysia finished on 132 for six and no side had chased as many as 133 batting second in this tournament so runs on the board may prove crucial but Hong Kong would have still have been confident of winning the last place in the Asia Cup Qualifier.
Hong Kong’s openers, Nizakat Khan and Shahid Wasif both hit boundaries as Hong Kong made a confident start but Nizakat was lbw to tall left-arm spinner Pavandeep Singh who has bowled well with the new ball throughout the tournament. Kinchit Shah came to the crease and at the start of the tournament captain Aizaz Khan had pinpointed Kinchit as the man to watch for Hong Kong. A pair of classy boundaries off Pavandeep wasn’t bad for starters as Hong Kong had scored 38 from the first five overs but Kinchit was lbw to Syazul Idrus for 17 and the match was back in the balance. Hong Kong were 39 for two at the end of the powerplay.
Hong Kong were beginning to struggle as left-arm spinner Fitri Sham bowled a tidy over and seamer Dhivendran Mogan made an excellent impression on his recall to the team as he conceded only two runs from his first over. The pressure finally told as Waqas Khan attempted to clear long-off and was caught by the tallest man on the field Pavandeep Singh off the bowling of Fitri Sham.
We were beginning to see why Hong Kong had never been able to get on top of the Malaysian bowling during their recent series and why Malaysia had defended totals successfully in the first four matches of the series. Hong Kong were 46 for three as Jamie Atkinson came to the crease looking to play a decisive innings on the big occasion after making his international debut during the 50-over Asia Cup in Pakistan in 2008. Hong Kong still had work to do as they were 55 for three at the halfway stage, requiring 78 more runs from 10 overs.
The experienced Atkinson was content to play a supporting role as opener Shahid Wasif finally found his feet and also began to find the boundary, hitting three fours and a six, while Atkinson placed the singles to put Wasif back on strike. Mogan had bowled his four overs of medium pace and had done a good containing job. Khizar Hayat replaced Fitri Sham and a pair of twos took Atkinson into double figures. Hong Kong were 91 for three from 15 overs as they required 41 from five overs.
Shahid Wasif reached a fine fifty in 46 balls with five fours and a six and suddenly it was Atkinson who was ready to take charge as he hit dangerman Sharvin Muniyandy over long on for six and followed with a four as 14 came off the over and Hong Kong seemed to be on their way to victory. Pavandeep Singh came back for his last over and had Shahid Wasif stumped for exactly 50 but Haroon Arshad hit his first ball for six to keep up the momentum.
21 runs were needed from the last three overs with six wickets in hand. Khizar Hayat bowled the 18th over and it was Haroon Arshad who crashed him over mid-wicket for six as the over brought 12 more runs. Fitri Sham was given the ball for the penultimate over but Hong Kong eased to victory with four singles off the first four balls before Atkinson took centre stage to hit the winning boundary.
Hong Kong had won by six wickets with seven balls to spare. Jamie Atkinson had seen his side home on 33 from 26 balls and Haroon Arshad had hit a quickfire 19 from nine balls. By finishing second in the table, Hong Kong joined Singapore, UAE and Kuwait in the Asia Cup Qualifier that will be played in Malaysia in August.
The presentation followed with Singapore presented with their trophy for winning the tournament and Hong Kong their runners’ up award. Singapore’s Tim David was named the player of the tournament, while team-mate Sidhant Singh won the batting award and Hong Kong’s Aftab Hussain won the bowling award. Thailand won the Spirit of Cricket award for their unblemished disciplinary record.
ACC MEN’S EASTERN REGION 2020
Singapore v Nepal at TCG
Hong Kong v Malaysia at TCG
HONG KONG WON BY SIX WICKETS
Malaysia won the toss and chose to bat
Malaysia: 132 for 6 off 20 overs (V.Singh 33, S.Mubarak 30)
Hong Kong: 133 for 4 off 18.5 overs (S.Wasif 50, J.Atkinson 33*)
Man of the Match: Shahid Wasif (Hong Kong)