This match was vital for a semi-final place. What it came down to for Ireland was, win and progress, lose and go out. It was Ireland's third match at Kelab Aman where Ireland enjoyed playing.
The match was a good example of batting first and having only one pressure on the players, making as many runs as possible. The second pressure, facing a target score, is absent if a team bats first. Hong Kong put Ireland in. At one point the score was a worrying 120 for 5. However, with no winning target pressure, Ireland scored 103 in the last 19 overs and lost only two more wickets.
For the third successive match (all the quarter finals) Ireland retained the same team. Hong Kong deposed top-seeded Bermuda in the first round. The King's dinner was held on the eve of this match. It should have been on the night of the Bangladesh match with the next day a rest day. Ireland, with difficulty, got permission to leave the dinner early to be rested prior to the vital Hong Kong match.
The day was sunny and humid when Curry and Andrew Patterson set off. Curry hit two big sixes, there were seven wides and 38 were up in five overs. One of the sixes saw Curry caught at mid-wicket but the fielder's impetus took him over the boundary. Patterson was bowled in the sixth over. He was forward but should have been back to a short ball which crept. 39-1-12. With Lewis in, 50 came up in over 10. Scoring had slowed with two new bowlers and Curry fell for 24, in 37 balls, in over 14 at 58. He drove across the ball which hit his off stump. There was much changing of the bowling. After 20 overs, 83 runs, six bowlers had been tried. Lewis was restricted by his injury and only managed 18 in 55 balls. At 90, in the 21st over, he was caught at the wicket off a wide ball which bounced a little and he failed to move his feet.
Doak joined Benson and the score was only mounting slowly in singles and twos. Sharma, a legspinner who had played for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, came on for the 25th over with the score at 94. He took the next three wickets in his fourth, fifth and last overs. He bowled his 10 overs for 29 runs. After 25 overs the score was 102. Four overs later only 14 more runs had been scored. Then Benson, who scored 33 in 37 balls, drove Sharma to mid-off. In his next over Sharma induced Doak to pop a ball up to short mid-wicket. 120 for five in the 32nd over was the low point of the innings.
Dunlop had opened quietly but was lucky when an edge flew wide of slip. He was now joined by Gillespie. In 10 overs they added 40 with 150 coming up in over 40. Then Sharma, in his last over, caught and bowled Gillespie over his head when the latter failed to reach the pitch of the ball. 158-6-19. Harrison now proved the perfect support for Dunlop for the last nine overs. 64 were scored off 50 balls, 39 of them to Dunlop and 15 to Harrison. 175 was up in 45 overs. Then Dunlop launched his attack. He faced 17 balls in the next four overs and scored 33 runs with a six and four fours. 200 came up in over 48 and Dunlop's 50, with a six, in over 49. The last over began with three balls yielding six wides. Dunlop was out off the fourth legal ball, bowled with his head in the air. He had scored 54 in 61 balls with cover drives off the back foot and lusty drives. Harrison pushed his ones and twos and was 15 not out in 23 balls. Hong Kong gave away 35 in extras of which 23 were wides. Eight bowlers were used of whom Sharma was the only outstanding one and the only one to bowl the full quota of 10 overs.
Ireland were hoping to bowl Hong Kong out quickly to improve their run rate. After a good start, 22 for two, it was not to be. Indeed, with rain looming (it never came) Hong Kong, after 31 overs, and only three out, were within six runs of winning on the Duckworth-Lewis system if play had to be abandoned. A fourth wicket fell in the 32nd over and the danger passed. Farcy, who also opened the bowling, took nine from Gillespie's first over, including a six. Mark Patterson opened with four wides but Gillespie had Raza caught at the wicket at 16 and Farcy caught in the gully at 22.
Brew, an Australian, joined Eames and was aggressive. Wides abounded and 15 were bowled in 10 overs at which point the score was 38. McCrum and Eagleson were given three overs each. 55 was up in 15 overs before Doak and Harrison came on to stem the scoring. They both opened with maidens and only one run came in three overs. These included a missed stumping chance offered by Brew off Doak and a wicket, the left-handed Eames, caught at extra cover off a drive. 55-3-13. Sharma proved as good a bat as he was a bowler. 55 were put on with Brew in 92 balls. The latter attacked Harrison in over 25 by hitting 4-6-4 and 81 was up at the halfway mark, but only 26 had been scored since over 15.
Curry came on for Harrison and McCrum replaced Doak in search of the vital fourth wicket which was necessary if rain fell. McCrum obliged in his first over. Brew went to his 50 in this over off 84 balls but was out before the over ended. He pulled and Harrison caught him at mid-wicket. 110-4-50. Wickets now fell regularly after small stands. Sharma was next to go. He drove at McCrum and skied to short leg. 118-5-21. Gillespie came back at 136 and in his second over was heaved at by Fordham, Hong Kong's captain, and he was caught at the wicket. 136-6-4.
Meanwhile Hussain was enjoying himself with a six off Gillespie. Wides crept up to 25 before McCrum bowled Sunjanani, swinging, head up, at 146. Eagleson took the next two wickets in the 45th over, at 164 and 166. Hussain, 23 in 24 balls, pulled in the air and Dunlop snaffled the ball on the mid-wicket boundary. Three balls later Lever was caught at long-on. Patterson came back for the 46th over to have Jones lbw. Ireland used seven bowlers in 46 overs. Only McCrum bowled 10, taking 3-30. Doak bowled eight overs for 19 runs and Eagleson eight for 30. Extras were 33 in a total of 172. Wides were 28 with Patterson bowling nine and Gillespie seven.
Dunlop was named Man-of-the-Match. Ireland were now assured of a semi-final place and return flights had to be cancelled. The result of Bangladesh v Holland was eagerly awaited. If Holland won Ireland would play Scotland in a semi-final. If not, then it would be the dreaded Kenya. Holland scored 171 in 50 overs. Bangladesh were 15 for four and then 56 for four in the 19th over when it rained. They resumed and Duckworth-Lewis threw up a target of 141 in 33 overs. This meant 85 to get in 14 overs but Bangladesh came home with eight balls and three wickets to spare. So it was Ireland versus Kenya in the first semi-final in two days time. The other semi-final would be Bangladesh v Scotland.