Hong Kong break UAE domination
Before this tournament, the UAE had not lost a match in the ACC Trophy since a semi-final against Bangladesh back in 1998. This year, they started with a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, but did recover to reach another final, hoping to pick up a fifth consecutive title. But it wasn't to be.
At the Kinrara Oval, the UAE won the toss and elected to bat. Their innings got off to the worst possible start when Irfan Ahmed had Mohammad Iqbal caught behind from the first delivery of the match. Not long after, they were really struggling on 14/3.
Saqib Ali and captain Khurram Khan began a recovery, putting on 144 for the fourth wicket before Khan was out for 56. Ali stayed in with the lower order to provide a backbone to the innings, scoring 102 before he was out in the final over. Najeeb Amar with 4/61 was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers as the UAE made 243/7 from their 50 overs.
It was looking like rain in Kuala Lumpur, but the teams still came out after the break, and Hong Kong started quickly, clubbing 13 runs from the first over. But then the rain came, and the players went back to the pavilion. After the rain stopped, 14 overs were taken off Hong Kong's chase, with Duckworth/Lewis reducing their target to 203.
After the restart, Tabarak Dar fell to the first ball of the second over, and fellow opener Nadeem Ahmed was out soon after. Najeeb Amar, after starring with the ball in the UAE innings, then starred with the bat, putting on 125 for the third wicket with 17-year-old wicket-keeper Jamie Atkinson before he was out for 100 from 80 balls.
The middle order managed to knock off the remaining 53 runs needed, and Hong Kong won by three wickets with eleven balls to spare, thus becoming just the third team to win the ACC Trophy.
Hong Kong will now have a lot of confidence as they begin their preparations for Division Four of the World Cricket League in Tanzania in October. The UAE on the other hand will have plenty of time to regroup - their next scheduled action isn't until April 2009, when they will host the ICC World Cup Qualifier.