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Hong Kong goes down fighting in last-over thriller

Bilal Khan, Aamir Kaleem and Adnan Ilyas star as Oman seals T20I series

Hong Kong goes down fighting in last-over thriller - Cricket News
Hong Kong celebrate the win.
Oman has defeated Hong Kong on the penultimate ball of the match to record a thrilling four-run victory and go 2-0 up in the three-T20I series in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.  

Having earlier posted 131 for the loss of six wickets, Oman took three wickets in the final two overs to snatch victory and an unbeatable series lead with one ball to spare. Oman’s Bilal Khan claimed four wickets for 20 runs, including two wickets in the final over, to secure the win.  

After being sent in to bat, Oman stumbled in the very first over, with opener Zeeshan Maqsood (0) caught by Babar Hayat. Khawar Ali went on to score a run-a-ball 27 before being caught by Waqas Barkat. Adnan Ilyas (37) and Aamir Kaleem (42*) put on a fourth-wicket partnership of 47 to steady the innings. The pair struck four boundaries each in the match’s biggest partnership, before Adnan was run out by wicketkeeper Chris Carter in the 15th over. Aamir went on to an unbeaten 31-ball 42, with one six, the highest score of the day.

For Hong Kong, 22-year-old Aizaz Khan claimed three wickets for 22 runs, while Haseeb Amjad and Tanwir Afzal took one wicket apiece.  

Hong Kong looked solid in its chase, despite losing Anshuman Rath (0) in the first over. It kept ahead of the required run rate in the early overs, as first Waqas Barkat (10), Babar Hayat (27) and then Mark Chapman (20) rotated the strike, mixing singles with boundaries on the slow wicket. Number five Nizakat Khan top scored with 29 runs from 26 deliveries, but Oman took regular wickets to ensure that Hong Kong was not able to consolidate its position. 

With two overs remaining, Hong Kong required 13 runs with three wickets in hand. Chris Carter was dismissed on 15 from 10 balls, breaking the vital 20-run partnership he had built with Nizakat. This brought number ten Haseeb Amjad to the crease with eight balls remaining. Needing only six runs from the final over for victory with two wickets in hand, Hong Kong faced medium-fast bowler Bilal, who gave the batsmen nothing as they tried for singles. The left-armer clean bowled Nizakat with a yorker, bringing in the final batsman of the day, Nadeem Ahmed. Needing five runs from the final four balls, he bowled two dot balls before hitting the stumps of Nadeem (0) on the penultimate delivery to secure victory for Oman.  

Coach Simon Cook was disappointed with his side’s loss: “It’s pretty frustrating, to be honest. We bowled really well, and fielded very well in the first half of the game. We restricted them to about 130, which was about par, I was actually really happy with that score. And then unfortunately in the second innings, it was frustrating, because on two or three occasions we actually had the game in our hands, and ready just to put the finishing touches to it, and unfortunately we end up with a couple of key players making poor decisions under pressure, and it has unfortunately cost us the match.”

“We were 36 for two off six overs, which was pretty much where we wanted to be – I would have liked to be a few wickets less, but we were pretty much bang on target at that point – Chappie (Mark Chapman) and Babar (Hayat) were going really well, and then we had poor execution on a shot, and suddenly we are four down and having to restart the innings. Which we then did, Nizakat then came in, and he’s had a tough tour so far, and came on and played really, really well in this game, in this period, and was there right at the end.”

“To be fair to the Oman bowler, Bilal (Khan), he bowled a really good last over, got his Yorkers right up there, and really didn’t give our guys anything to really hit. So credit has to go to him for executing a really good last over. But it falls back onto our batters who put us into that position, needing six off sixth, when really we should have knocked it off in the 19th over, and only four or five wickets down.”

Looking ahead to the final T20I against Oman, the coach remained confident. “Having been critical over our batting performance today, there were some things that we can take going forward, positive things. Certainly from the first game, where we were just playing big shots, whereas this game, we definitely had the element of control in our innings. The confidence is there, we just need to make sure we don’t hand our best players on a plate.”

Hong Kong’s top run-scorer Nizakat Khan was also confident that the team could bounce back. “It’s the second loss for us. To be honest, today we looked good, but again, in batting, we collapsed.  Our thought execution wasn’t that great. But the boys are feeling good, so hopefully in the third game, we will come hard at them.”

“The wicket was a bit slow, the ball wasn’t coming nicely onto the bat, so I was just looking for runs - one or two. At the end, we were losing our wickets in the middle, and the pressure came on me.  But I felt good, and I think we should have won that game, if we had batted sensibly and smartly.”

“We are going to come hard in the next game, and we need to win that game to bring our confidence up before the World Twenty20. Oman has been coming up really well, since the World Twenty20 Qualifier, they have been performing consistently well.” 

Oman is now 2-0 up in the three-T20I series, having won the first T20I by six wickets on Monday. Hong Kong will be looking for a consolation win when the sides face off for the third and final T20I tomorrow (Thursday) in Abu Dhabi.
To keep up with the latest match news of Hong Kong’s tour, please go to the tournament page on the HKCA website (http://hkcricket.org/en/news/Hong-Kong-Tour-to-Abu-Dhabi-and-Dubai/391/).   

Oman won by four runs

Oman 131 for six, 20 overs (Aamir Kaleem 42*, Adnan Ilyas 37, Khawar Ali 27; Aizaz Khan 3-22, Haseeb Amjad 1-18, Tanwir Afzal 1-27)
Hong Kong 127 all out, 19.5 overs overs (Nizakat Khan 29, Babar Hayat 27, Mark Chapman 20, Chris Carter 15; Bilal Khan 4-20, Zeeshan Maqsood 3-22, Khawar Ali 2-19)

Remaining tour schedule:
26 November: Hong Kong v Oman, Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi (Twenty20 International)
28 November: Hong Kong v Afghanistan, Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi (Twenty20 International)

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