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17 July 201522:52

Hong Kong pulls off thrilling win over Ireland

Low-scoring game goes the way of the lower-ranked team after a superb bowling performance from Irfan Ahmed, who returned 3 for 11

Hong Kong pulls off thrilling win over Ireland - Cricket News

Hong Kong celebrate the win.

Hong Kong held its nerve to pull off a five-run win in a thrilling Group A encounter at the ICC World T20 Qualifier 2015 over Ireland at The Village in Malahide, Dublin on Friday (July 17).

Chasing 130 runs to virtually seal its berth in the knockouts just hours after Papua New Guinea made the cut, Ireland looked well placed with Paul Stirling and William Porterfield, the skipper, coming good with the bat, but it lost four wickets in seven deliveries towards the fag end to lose the plot and hand Hong Kong a memorable win.

Asked to bat, Hong Kong was off to a poor start when it lost Irfan Ahmed with just eight runs on board. Ireland had a chance to make further inroads but its bowlers slipped in line and length and the fielding let it down as well.

As a result, the Hong Kong middle-order batsmen got the chance to free their arms. But despite cameos from Anshuman Rath (22), Nizakat Khan (25) and Mark Chapman (30), Hong Kong only reached what seemed like a below-par 129 for 8 from 20 overs.

Kevin O’Brien was expensive, going for 32 runs from four overs while scalping three wickets, while John Mooney and George Dockrell bagged two wickets each.

In response, Ireland lost Andrew Balbirnie with nine runs on board. The innings, however, was steered back on path by a 43-run partnership between Stirling and Porterfield for the second wicket. But Irfan ended the stand by dismissing Stirling for a well-made 26-ball 34. Still Ireland had plenty in its ranks to scale the target, or so people thought.

The fall of Kevin O’Brien made things slightly tougher for Ireland, but a 30-run stand for the fourth wicket between Porterfield and Gary Wilson steadying the ship again. But once Aiyaz Khan got rid of Wilson, Ireland started slipping. From 104 for 4, Ireland was reduced to 106 for 8, and that took the target out of its reach.

Needing 23 runs to win off the final over, to be bowled by Haseeb Amjad, Ireland managed 17 runs courtesy Mooney, who scored an unbeaten 18 from just eight balls, but it wasn’t enough.

Irfan Ahmed’s figures of 3 for 11 from four overs, which earned him the Man of the Match award, ensured Hong Kong remained in the fourth spot on the table with five points from four games.

Recently we’ve beaten Bangladesh in their home ground, so that was good,” Irfan Ahmed said after the game. “Ireland are a very good side, so beating them at home is very good and gives us a lot of confidence.

“I knew if I could put the ball in the right area it’s going to come out well. So that’s what I did, just kept it simple. We are looking forward to qualifying for the World T20 for the second time now.”

Ireland, which suffered its second loss on the trot, is second with six points from five games.