History repeats itself as Hong Kong deny UAE a place in home Asia Cup again

National team subside to defeat against familiar rivals and end third in qualifying tournament in Muscat

Hong Kong celebrate a wicket in the final match of the Asia Cup Qualifier against UAE in Muscat. Courtesy ACC
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For the second time in the past two Asia Cups, Hong Kong have deprived UAE the chance to play against cricket’s giants on home soil.

Just as they did in 2018, back when the competition was last played before its Covid-enforced break, they beat the national team to the big prize.

The format might be different this time around, with the sides vying in T20 competition rather than 50 overs. But Hong Kong again overpowered UAE in a run chase.

The eight-wicket win in Muscat consigned the national team to third place in the four-team tournament. Hong Kong, by contrast, can look ahead to matches against the might of India and Pakistan in the Emirates next week.

When the day started, UAE had looked well positioned, at least knowing that their fate was in their own hands.

At that stage, a win over unbeaten Hong Kong appeared as though it would be enough to carry them through, so superior was their net run-rate (NRR) advantage.

They were ahead of Hong Kong on that count - if not points - and Kuwait, the other side who could make it to a three-way tie on four points, were way behind on NRR.

And then Kuwait made a joke of the predictions by obliterating Singapore in the opening match of the evening at the Oman Cricket Academy.

Singapore, who are coached by the former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, were first shot out for 104 with a ball left of their 20 overs.

Kuwait, who beat UAE by one wicket in their opening game of the competition, then raced to their target in just 7.5 overs. All of which meant a massive NRR boost for Kuwait.

By the time UAE lost the toss and were inserted in the match which followed, they knew they would need to win by 56 runs or more if they were to vault back above their Gulf neighbours.

Hong Kong wicketkeeper Scott McKenchnie appeals for a stumping against UAE captain CP Rizwan. Courtesy ACC

That appeared far-fetched almost from the off, as UAE lost each of their celebrated top three – Muhammad Waseem, Chirag Suri and Vriitya Aravind – by the time they had 25 on the board.

As the national team tried to rebuild, progress was slow. Captain CP Rizwan made it to 49 from 44 balls to top score, but it needed the urgency of Zawar Farid to give UAE something to bowl at.

The all-rounder blazed 41 from 27 balls after coming in at No 7, as UAE reached 147 before being bowled out midway through their last over.

Ehsan Khan was Hong Kong’s star with the ball, as he took four for 24 from four overs, while Ayush Shukla's three for 30 included the prize wicket of the in-form Waseem.

Their batters made easy work of the run chase to complete a third win in the competition, and render all the NRR calculations irrelevant.

Yasim Murtaza led the way at the top of the order, making a half century, as Hong Kong booked their trip to the main event with six balls to spare.

Updated: August 29, 2022, 7:32 AM
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