When Hong Kong won the toss and Jamie Atkinson invited Bangladesh to bat, he must have had the prospect of dew on the back of his mind. What he could not have predicted was the manner in which the strongest team of Group A would self-destruct.
Hong Kong, who had suffered from nerves, especially in front of loud crowds, was suddenly uplifted, and even the biggest, most vociferous crowd it had come up against could not make a dent.
A series of poor choices were made by the batsmen visiting the crease and occupying it temporarily as wickets fell in a heap. Without any particularly exceptional spell, or the pitch playing any tricks, Bangladesh contrived to lose its last seven wickets for the addition of only 23 runs, in 5.5 overs of mayhem, and was bowled out for 108.
Mushfiqur Rahim holed out, Mahmudullah was bowled, and both Farhad Reza and Abdur Razzaq brought the wicketkeeper into play against the legbreaks of Nizakat Khan, who ended with figures of 3 for 19. Nadeem, the slow-left armer, went one better, picking up 4 for 21.
Hong Kong was in touching distance of its greatest moment in cricket when the chase began, and understandably nerves surfaced. Constantly being the underdog poses one sort of challenge, but also liberates you. In contrast, Hong Kong was in uncharted waters: it had put itself in a position from which comfortable victory against a Test nation was the most probable outcome. Adding interest to the equation was the fact that Hong Kong had a chance to put Bangladesh out of the tournament, if it managed to get to 109 in 13.1 overs or quicker. Of course, this would not benefit Hong Kong in any way, with the beneficiary being Nepal, who would have progressed to the second round by being tied on points with Bangladesh and possessing a superior net run-rate.
The manner in which openers Waqas Barkat and Irfan approached the chase, it seemed as though they were determined to do their associate colleagues a favour. Swinging hard at everything that came their way, only occasionally making contact, Hong Kong tried to add to the already significant pressure Bangladesh were under.
It backfired initially, as Barkat went for a duck, comfortably stumped when he ran down the pitch to Shakib and was beaten in the flight. Irfan, who had bagged two first-ball dismissals in the tournament, almost made it a hat-trick, smashing one back at Al-Amin Hossain, the bowler only managing to get fingertips to the ball. Irfan eventually got going, but on the day he fired, the two steadying influences of the Hong Kong line-up, Atkinson and Mark Chapman, both failed. Irfan, who had hit his straps quite nicely, had raced to 34 out of Hong Kong’s 44 when he became the fourth man dismissed, trapped in front by Shakib.
Before Hong Kong could recover, Bangladesh’s bowlers were swarming all over, and the chase was reeling at 50 for 5.
When the final over began, Hong Kong needed 6, with only two wickets in hand. Nadeem and Haseeb Amjad stayed cool, and drew level with ones and twos. For good measure, Amjad then smashed a six and history was made.