Hong Kong book ticket to Dubai
Hong Kong have become the fourteenth team to secure qualification to the global World Twenty20 qualifier in Dubai in March after a win over Kuwait today in Nepal ensured that they will reach the semi-finals of the ACC Twenty20 Cup.
At the Tribhuvan University ground in the afternoon, Kuwait captain Azmatullah Nazeer won the toss and elected to bat first. Mohammed Asghar started well enough, scoring 34 from 22 balls before he was out in the ninth over. No other batsman stayed with him though, and the score was 58-6 when he was out.
The skipper shepherded the lower order to some extent with an innings of 28, helping to recover the innings to a total of 130-9 from 20 overs.
Hong Kong lost both openers cheaply in reply, but a third wicket partnership of 56 between captain Jamie Atkinson and Munir Dar put Hong Kong in the driving seat before Dar was out for 39 from 29 balls. Atkinson stayed in, eventually reaching 41 from 29 balls to lead his team to a six wicket win.
Earlier in the day, Afghanistan secured their semi-final spot with a comprehensive win over the Maldives. An innings of 76 from 50 balls from Shabir Noori led them to a total of 157-8 in their 20 overs, before they bowled the Maldives out for 95, Moosa Kaleem the only resistance with 45.
In other matches, Malaysia easily beat Bhutan by 112 runs, whilst Nepal beat Saudi Arabia by 95 runs thanks to a fine innings of 88 from 41 balls by Mahaboob Alam. Semi-final spots for these two teams are far from secure though and depend on the results of tomorrows matches.
Malaysia require the Maldives to beat Oman, but not by enough to overcome Malaysia's net run rate. Nepal require either Saudi Arabia to beat the UAE or for the UAE to beat Saudi Arabia by a small enough margin to not overcome Nepal's net run rate.
Tomorrow we will finally find out the line-up of the global Twenty20 qualifier after dozens of matches over the last year involving almost every associate and affiliate member of the ICC.