A lower-order rally around Babar Hayat and a solid bowling performance powered hosts Hong Kong to a convincing 106-run win over Papua New Guinea in the series opener at the Mission Road Ground in Hong Kong on Friday (November 4).
After electing to bat, Hong Kong first found themselves in a spot of bother at 27 for 2 which later aggravated into some serious trouble at 111 for 6, with four wickets falling for just 6 runs. But in a couple of crucial partnerships for the seventh and eighth wicket, skipper Hayat, along with Tanwir Afzal and Aizaz Khan, charted a superb rescue act which elevated the home team to a very respectable 269 before being bowled out in the final over.
Hayat went on to score 77 and had seemingly done enough to bail his side out. Going into the break after a momentum surge, Hong Kong were sure to have had an uplift in morale.
In response, PNG recovered commendably from a couple of early wickets with an 83-run stand between Lega Siaka and captain Assad Vala but a collapse wasn't far away. Emulating their opponents at a similar stage, they lost wickets in a cluster. However, unlike the hosts, there was simply no one to stem the rot and the innings lost the plot in no time.
Anshuman Rath and Nadeem Ahmed, Hong Kong's left-arm spinners, had a field day, helping themselves to 3 wickets each while barely giving much away.
This was the first of a three-match series; a game which PNG will rue for losing some very decisive moments in the first half.
Brief Scores: Hong Kong 269 in 49.4 overs (Babar Hayat 77, Tanwir Afzal 47, Aizaz Khan 44; Chad Soper 3-39, Mahuru Dai 3-58) beat PNG 163 in 38.2 overs (Assad Vela 43, Dogodo Bau 34; Anshuman Rath 3-22, Nadeem Ahmed 3-37) by 106 runs