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Hong Kong on the charge at ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers

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An electrifying century by Irfan Ahmed helped Hong Kong secure a 53-run victory over Canada, while a 49-run ninth-wicket partnership between Richard Okia and Charles Waiswa led Uganda to a one-wicket victory over Italy on the fourth day of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 (WT20Q) on Monday.

Ahmed clobbered four fours and eight sixes in a 53-ball 100 to lift Hong Kong to 168 for five at Abu Dhabi Oval 1. He then returned figures of two for 22 as Canada was restricted to 115 for seven. It was Hong Kong’s third successive victory, and has taken the side to the top of Group A while Canada is still searching for its maiden win.

Also in Abu Dhabi, Okia (33 not out) and Waiswa (21) came to the rescue of Uganda with a dogged ninth wicket stand after the African side had slipped to 97 for eight in the 14th over while chasing 149 for victory. Uganda achieved victory with one ball to spare after Okia hit the winning boundary. It was Uganda’s first victory and Italy’s second defeat after three matches.

In the other two matches of the day, played at the ICC Academy in Dubai, Scotland recorded its first victory of the tournament when it defeated Group B leader Nepal by eight wickets at ICC Academy Oval 2, while Kenya also tasted its first victory in the competition when it overcame Denmark by eight wickets at ICC Academy Oval 1.

Hong Kong’s Irfan Ahmed stole the honours of the fourth day when he became the third batsman in three days and fifth overall to score a century in the history of the competition. In the last few days, PNG’s Tony Ura scored 100 against the Netherlands and Rakep Patel of Kenya scored 100 off 45 balls against Nepal. In the 2012 tournament, Namibia’s Louis van der Westhuizen became the first batsman to score a century when he hit 106 not out against Scotland, while two days later Scotland’s Calum MacLeod scored 104 not out against Oman.

Ahmed was in punishing form and dominated the first wicket partnership with Waqs Barkat, who contributed 31 in a stand of 102. When Ahmed was dismissed by Harvir Baidwan in the 18th over, Hong Kong was 154 for four, and Hong Kong added another 14 more runs to finish with 168 for five.

Canada started its run-chase briskly, but Munir Dar (four for 17) prevented any long-lasting partnerships. Ahmed claimed the prized scalps of Ashish Bagai (15) and Jimmy Hansra (26) on consecutive deliveries to leave Canada reeling at 82 for five in 14.5 overs.  Raza Rehman added a quickfire 23 to the total, but it was not enough and Canada fell short of the target by 53 runs when it finished at 115 for seven.

Also in Abu Dhabi, Uganda overcame a middle-order batting collapse with a gritty 49-run ninth-wicket between Okia and Waiswa, the highest of the match. After losing five wickets for 12 runs, Uganda fought back and required 11 runs off the final two overs and then three runs off the final four deliveries.  Okia was adjudged man of the match for his match-winning innings.

Earlier, Italy’s Gareth Berg (62, 40 balls, 7x4, 2x6) put on a 39-run partnership with Peter Petricola (34) to guide his team to 148 for four.

Scotland’s Calum MacLeod was the other batsman to steel the limelight with an unbeaten 82, which came off 64 balls and included five fours and three sixes.  Kenya’s Nehemiah Odhiambo (three for 15), Scotland’s Safyaan Sharif (three for 19), Scotland’s Gordon Goudie (three for 29), and Kenya’s Michael Pedersen (two for eight) excelled with the ball.


Hong Kong 168-5, 20 overs (Irfan Ahmed 100, Waqas Barkat 31; Hiral Patel 2-33)

Canada 115-7, 19.5 overs (Jimmy Hansra 26, Raza Rehman 23 not out; Munir Dar 4-17, Irfan Ahmed 2-22)

Result: Hong Kong won by 53 runs

Player of the Match: Irfan Ahmed (Hong Kong)