Pakistan survive Hong Kong scare
The winning margin of 155 runs for Pakistan may suggest an easy ride for the home team in the ninth Asia Cup, but early in the match it looked like Pakistan could again lose to an associate in a major international competition.
Pakistan lost Salman Butt for a duck to a catch behind by Jamie Atkinson, son of former Durham, Netherlands and Hong Kong player Steve Atkinson, from the third ball of the match, bowled by Afzaal Haider. This brought Younis Khan to the crease and he put on 67 with skipper Shoaib Malik before Malik fell on 35.
Younis continued, scoring quickly, including the only six of the match, along with Mohammad Yousuf before Nadeem Ahmed caused panic in the Pakistan dressing room. With the score on 121/2, he had Yousuf caught by Afzaal Haider on 28 and had Younis stumped for 67.
Eight balls later he trapped Misbah-ul-Haq LBW for just two, and another two overs went by before he caught the often unpredictable Shahid Afridi off his own bowling for four. Wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed was run out a short while after, leaving Pakistan on 161/7, and Hong Kong on the verge of a remarkable upset.
But it was not to be as Fawad Alam and Sohail Tanvir, who had a previous ODI best of 26, took advantage of some lackadaisical fielding to put on exactly 100 for the eighth wicket before Tanvir was out for 59. Alam stayed in until the end of the innings, scoring 63 to guide Pakistan to a total of 288/9 from their 50 overs, less than they should have made against Hong Kong, but a competitive total nonetheless, and more than it looked like they'd make after being reduced to 161/7.
Hong Kong came into bat, but none of their batsmen really got started. Captain Tabarak Dar was hit on the jaw by a Umar Gul bouncer and retired hurt. He returned at the fall of the fifth wicket, but the damage had been done with the score on just 76.
Zain Abbas retired hurt due to cramp in the 28th over after a delivery that saw two men taken out of action. Abbas played an off-drive which deflected of Younis Khan's head into the covers. Abbas was stretchered off, and Younis joined him on the stretcher.
Younis fortunately wasn't seriously hurt and he came back on the field, taking his second ODI wicket when he trapped Najeeb Amar LBW for 21. Hong Kong were eventually bowled out for 133 in the 38th over, losing by 155 runs in what was a better performance than expected before the start of play.
Hong Kong will play India tomorrow, whilst Pakistan will play India on Thursday.