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Ireland goes to top of the table with fourth win

Nizakat Khan’s valiant 124 goes in vain as Hong Kong falls 70 runs short in Intercontinental Cup clash

Ireland goes to top of the table with fourth win - Cricket News
With a clean record of four wins from as many games, Ireland have a lot to celebrate. ©INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White
Experience got the better of youth as Ireland notched a 70-run over Hong Kong in an Intercontinental Cup clash at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Stormont on Friday (September 2).
 
Chasing a steep 310 to win on the final day of the four-day contest, Hong Kong started on the wrong foot as it lost a couple of early wickets, but Nizakat Khan kept his side’s hopes alive until the very end with a fine century before becoming Paul Stirling’s only victim and -- more hurtfully for Hong Kong -- the last wicket to fall in the game.
 
Nizakat’s departure for 124 from 181 balls meant Hong Kong was all out for 239 in 80.2 overs, giving host Ireland its fourth successive win in as many games in the competition. The home side thus sits comfortably on top of the table.
 
Ireland, who had made 316 in the first innings of this match, wasn’t quite as dominating with the bat in the second as it slumped to 199 for 6 at stumps on the third day. The lower order managed to add runs to the overnight tally despite conditions tilting in favour of the bowlers.
 
At that stage, the game was poised with Hong Kong eminently capable of mounting a spirited chase, but the possibility of an Ireland win turned more real after Hong Kong lost Aizaz Khan and Ninad Shah, both to Tim Murtagh, in just 10.2 overs.
 
Hong Kong, who showed fight in the first innings courtesy Nizakat and Anshuman Rath to make 237 and keep the home side’s first-innings advantage down to 79, was in some trouble and needed Nizakat to deliver. The 24-year-old Pakistan-born player came up with the goods once again to raise Hong Kong’s hopes. The problem for Hong Kong, however, was that none of the other batters were able to stick around long enough and support Nizakat, who finished his innings with 14 fours and a six.
 
Christopher Carter and  Nadeem Ahmed provided some beef to the run chase, but with Ireland’s experienced unit putting in the yards, there was little Hong Kong could have done.
 
Apart from Murtagh, who finished with figures of 4 for 29 from 12.2 overs, George Dockrell and Kevin O’Brien picked up a couple of wickets each to hasten Ireland’s victory march.

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