Hong Kong were left frustrated by a phenomenal Netherlands rearguard action as the ICC Intercontinental Cup match ended in a draw at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground.
At lunch on the final day, Hong Kong required just four more wickets for victory, but a mammoth 288-run partnership from Ben Cooper and Pieter Seelaar denied the hosts victory.
With 80 overs left in the day and Timm Van Der Gugten unable to bat due to injury, Hong Kong looked set to complete victory in their maiden First Class match at home.
But Cooper was joined by Seelar in what turned out to be a marathon partnership that spanned for more than two sessions. The scored finished on 393-5, which was still 114 runs short of the 507-run target set by Hong Kong.
Neither batsman had previously scored a First Class century, but both well surpassed that milestone with Cooper scoring 173 from 317 balls, while Seelaar finished on 138 from 239 deliveries.
The unbeaten partnership defying 474 balls sent down by Hong Kong’s bowlers who up until that point had controlled the game.
“I’m a bit disappointed but at the same time I’m proud that we were on top for three and a bit days but today was a bit disappointing we should have won it,” said Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat.
“I think we dropped a couple of half chances in the field and if we took those it would have made the difference. The guys bowled really well for us and all contributed it was just those half chances. They deserve credit for the way they played, they batted more than two sessions and we couldn’t get through them.”
A sore and stiff looking Ben Cooper spoke after the game, understandably proud of his achievements which earned him Man of the Match honours.
“It wasn’t the best position to be in but we just backed ourselves and knuckled down,” Cooper said. “It’s the stuff you dream about to make such a good hundred as your first one and to be out there with Pieter was special.”
“I was following and looking at the scoreboard but in the end I just had to knuckle down and bat it out.” Copper added “It will be a quick turnaround but to have a game like that and personally put some runs on the board it feels good going into those World Cricket League games.”
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Hong Kong are eight wickets from victory heading into the final day of their ICC Intercontinental Cup clash against The Netherlands, who trail by 459, at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground.
Anshuman Rath backed up his unbeaten 98 with a sublime 88 in the second innings as Hong Kong declared at 263-6 to set The Netherlands a sizable 507 to win. The Dutch were 48-2 at stumps with Timm Van Der Gugten unable to bat due to a shoulder injury.
Earlier, Netherlands resumed their first innings 216-5 but were dismissed within the opening session for 284. Rath continued his incredible individual game by taking 2-18 with his left-arm spin.
Quick runs were in order for Hong Kong to set the Dutch a target and Chris Carter (35), Nizakat Khan (32) and Babar Hayat (31) ensured a solid start to the innings. That allowed the in-form Rath to play with freedom and he delivered a 101-ball 88 that included 5 fours and 2 sixes.
When the declaration finally came, Netherlands had to see out a minimum 116 overs to save the game. And it didn’t start well with Tanwir Afzal getting the edge of Stephan Myburgh in the first over in the innings, just as he’d done in the first.
The Netherlands endeavoured to bunker down with the total outside a realistic range and it wasn’t until the final 20 minutes in the day when Ehsan Nawaz picked up the vital second breakthrough of Max O’Dowd for 22.
Ben Cooper (19*) and Wesley Barresi (5*) will resume on day four.
“We are in a very strong position and another dominant display with the bat with Anshy playing a solid role and showing what a mature player he is at just 19,” said Hong Kong coach Simon Cook.
“The sky is the limit for him really, he’s got limits in his technique but he’s worked on those areas and with his tactical nouse it makes him a very effective and efficient cricketer in all situations.”
“I’m hugely pleased and the consistency shows on these flat wickets where you can’t just get back into the game with a turning wicket or low scores where your bowlers don’t have to be disciplined to get rewards. It’s been a very encouraging three days.”
“I think the seamers hold the key on this pitch, there’s not much assistance for spin but there is significant uneven bounce if you can bowl stump to stump.”
Hong Kong continued their dominance on day two of their Intercontinental Cup clash against The Netherlands at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground. Resuming on 366-3, Hong Kong posted their highest ever First Class score of 527 – before reducing the visitors to 216-5 at stumps.
Babar Hayat picked up from where he left off on day one, surpassing 150 as he and Anshuman Rath took their partnership past 100. Hayat was eventually given LBW for 173, his innings off 265 balls, including 22 fours and 2 sixes.
Attention then turn to Anshuman Rath and whether he could reach a maiden First Class century. He moved into the 90s with three wickets still in hand, but the Dutch denied him by polishing off the tail (with Ehsan Nawaz not able to bat), leaving the 19-year-old stranded on 98 not out.
In the fifth over, Tanwir struck again as he lured Max O’Dowd to edge to wicket-keeper Chris Carter to have the Netherlands in huge trouble at 23-2.
Ben Cooper and Roelef Van Der Merwe combined to finally get the Dutch innings going. They put on 102 before left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed drew the edge of Cooper for 52. And then two balls later he struck again to send Wesley Barresi back for a duck.
Skipper Peter Borren came in and took to the spinners with his reverse sweep, hitting three boundaries with it until the pace of Aizaz Khan took his edge.
However, Van Der Merwe was in a ruthless mood, he reached his century with a towering six off 108 balls and took the Dutch score past 200.
Speaking after play, Anshuman Rath was pleased with his side’s position.
“We started off strong with the bat and got the total we wanted to, we are happy having five wickets, but maybe we just let them get a few too many. Roelof batted really well but if we kept them to 50 or 60 less we’d really be in the driving seat.”
“I’m sure I’ll get over it (being left on 98*), I’m a bit disappointed but that’s cricket. While I was batting in the 90s I thought it’s time to convert one of these into a 100.”
“I’ve focused a lot of time in the gym getting fitter and also my boundary options which was lacking compared to others in the team. It’s been a good couple of months for me and I just want to keep it going.”
“It’s a good batting wicket but there is enough in it for the bowlers and it’s starting to turn a little bit which is a good sign for us. It’s a case of us bowling well and bowling to our plans.”
Hayat the owner of the first, First Class and T20 International hundreds by a Hong Kong player, added another feather to his cap with an unbeaten 141 as Hong Kong amassed 366-3 on day one of the ICC Intercontinental Cup match against The Netherlands.
Sent in to bat after losing the toss, debutant Matt Stiller and Chris Carter got Hong Kong off to a spritely start, scoring 50 runs in the first 10 overs with crisp drives a feature of their play. Stiller eventually nicked a good delivery from Vivian Kingma for 42, but the 90-run partnership had laid a strong platform.
Carter and Hayat continued to score freely, guiding Hong Kong to 121-1 at lunch. Although The Netherlands’ bowling attack was hampered by an injury to opening bowler Timm Van Der Gugten, who suffered a shoulder injury while diving in the outfield.
After the break, the spin of Roelof Van De Merwe slowed progress somewhat but Hong Kong again only lost one wicket in the session, that of Chris Carter for 84 – his highest First Class score.
Resuming at 227-2 after tea, Hayat and Nizakat Khan played with freedom. Babar’s century, courtesy of an ungainly dive, came from 162 balls, while Nizakat raised his 50 in 89 balls.
The partnership was worth 117 when Nizakat fended a ball to second slip following the introduction of the second new ball. The day was already Hong Kong’s at that point and the Hayat and Anshuman Rath (23*) partnership added 53 before the close. The home side are in a strong position to accelerate further on day two.
“The boys got off to a really good start and then when I came in they kept supporting me,” Hayat said. “I’ve never batted for this long before so I’m really pleased with this, we were thinking 230 or 240 would be a good score at the end of the day so we are looking forward to hopefully putting 500 on the board tomorrow.”
“The guys have been working really hard on our batting and everyone was feeling good coming into today so pleasing to put a good performance on the board.” Hayat continued “We lost the toss but thankfully they chose to bowl first, hopefully the wicket can spin on day three and four.”
Additional reporting and images: HK Cricket
A year after it was supposed to happen Hong Kong finally set to play their maiden international first class match at home – after the total washout of the 4-day match against Scotland last January – and Captain Babar Hayat is confident in getting a result against The Netherlands.
“It was good to get a win against them in Dubai and that gives us confidence but this is a different format of the game that they have more experience in so it will be a hard match,” Hayat said.
“But in home conditions this will favour us as most of their players will have never been here before. Our record at home has been really good and we want to keep that going in the I-Cup as well.”
Hong Kong currently sit fifth on the Intercontinental Cup table but a win could see HK leapfrog The Netherlands into third position. Hong Kong’s remaining fixtures in the I-Cup will be Afghanistan at home in October and PNG in Dubai to finish the competition.
Coach Simon Cook says the team are well prepared, “Finishing in the top half of this league was the aim but top four or top three is definitely within our scope. That will be a very, very good achievement as there’s no history of longer form fixtures in Hong Kong,” Cook said.
“They are a very good side. They’ve shown that in previous world cup qualifiers – their side has a lot of experienced players with also some young players they’ve brought as well. It’s their off-season so our advantage is we have been playing cricket for the last five months and they haven’t, so they may be a bit short of match practice.”
Play commences daily at 9.30am at Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground and entry is free for all four days.
The I-Cup squad features two new names, with Matt Stiller and Under-19s captain Jhatha Subramanyan in line for a potential debut out of the 14-man squad named.
Hong Kong Squad
ICC I-Cup v Netherlands (10-13 February)
1. Tanwir Afzal (Pakistan Assoc.), 2. Nadeem Ahmed (DLSWCC), 3. Christopher Carter (KCC), 4. Waqas Khan (DLSWCC), 5. Tanveer Ahmed (KCC), 6. Babar Hayat (DLSWCC), 7. Aizaz Khan (KCC), 8. Ehsan Khan (DLSWCC), 9. Nizakat Khan (HKCC), 10. Ehsan Nawaz (KCC), 11. Anshuman Rath (HKCC), 12. Ninad Shah (KCC), 13. Matt Stiller (KCC), 14. Jhatha Subramanyan (HKCC)
ICC WCLC v Netherlands (16 & 18 February)
1. Tanwir Afzal (Pakistan Assoc), 2. Nadeem Ahmed (DLSWCC), 3. Tanveer Ahmed (KCC), 4. James Atkinson (KCC), 5. Christopher Carter (KCC), 6. Mark Chapman (HKCC), 7. Ehsan Nawaz (KCC), 8. Babar Hayat (DLSWCC), 9. Aizaz Khan (KCC), 10. Ehsan Khan (DLSWCC), 11. Nizakat Khan (HKCC), 12. Waqas Khan (DLSWCC), 13. Anshuman Rath (HKCC), 14. Shahid Wasif (DLSWCC)
Additional reporting and images: HK Cricket, Peter Della Penna