A strong performance with the bat and a disciplined show with the ball helped Hong Kong overcome hosts Ireland by 40 runs at the Bready Cricket Club on Monday (September 5) to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Chasing 170, Ireland were rocked early, and despite fighting performances from Greg Thompson (44 off 32) and Kevin O’Brien (32 off 24), they ended up being bowled out for 129.
Ireland needed a steady start to entertain hopes of cantering to a win. However, they were reduced to 24 for 4 in no time before O’Brien and Thompson revived the chase with a 59-run stand. Just when it looked like Ireland were back on track in their chase, O’Brien was caught at short third man off Ehsan Khan in the 13th over.
What followed was some fireworks from Thompson and Andy McBrine (10), as they hammered 31 in the next three overs to bring the equation down to 54 off the last four. However, Ireland were guilty of not stitching a significant stand and paid the price for that, despite some individual brilliance from Thompson.
Earlier, Nizakat Khan (62) and Babar Hayat (49), who was appointed the captain of the Hong Kong team ahead of this tour, propelled the team to a challenging score after opting to bat.
Hong Kong got off to a decent start with Nizakat doing the bulk of the scoring in a 41-run stand for the first wicket. While Aizaz Khan (5) found it tough to get going, the former kept the runs flowing with fluent strokeplay. Once Aizaz was dismissed, Hayat and Nizakat collaborated to add another 56 runs in the next seven overs to set the platform for a late onslaught.
However, things didn’t pan out as the visitors would have wanted with the Ireland bowlers pulling things back with regular strikes. Nizakat’s wicket brought down the scoring rate considerably while Hayat found it tough to up the ante a touch and fell one short of a half-century.
Ehsan Khan (29 not out off 22) found the fence in the death overs to push the team past the 160-run mark and with the bowlers enjoying the conditions, Hong Kong managed to easily outplay the hosts.
Brief scores: Hong Kong 169/5 in 20 overs (Nizakat Khan 62, Babad Hayat 49) beat Ireland 129/10 (Greg Thompson 44; Aizaz Khan 3-12) by 40 runs.