Asia Cup 2022 | Hong Kong pull off huge upset against UAE, qualify for main tournament
Hong Kong have qualified for their second consecutive Asia Cup courtesy of an 8-wicket victory over UAE|
The Asia Cup groups are finally complete after Hong Kong ended the qualification stage unbeaten and ensured their entry into the main draw at the cost of the United Arab Emirates. This will be their fourth appearance in the tournament and a second consecutive one having also qualified in 2018.
Hong Kong have registered their second Asia Cup qualifier in a row and are now through to the group stages of the tournament where they have drawn in a group with India and Pakistan. The side was battling Singapore, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates for the sole spot and having beaten the first two in the opening encounters, qualification hinged upon the result of the final game. The victor of the same was pretty much ensured to go through and Hong Kong stepped up to the plate to secure another major tournament appearance.
Batting first, the UAE were bowled out for a rather paltry 147, failing to complete their 20 overs. The star of the show was Ehsan Khan, who bagged four wickets in his quote of four overs while giving away just 24 runs and clinching the man of the match award.
In response, Hong Kong's opening pair of skipper Nizakat Khan and Yasim Murtaza built up a strong foundation, contributing 85 runs in the first 10 overs. Even after Nizakat fell, Murtaza continued on his way to end up with 58 off just 43 deliveries. He was ably supported in the second half of his innings by Babar Hayat's rapid 38, which ensured his team get over the line with six balls and eight wickets to spare.
"I have no words to describe how I feel. I would like to thank Hong Cricket for all their support. Our process was the same, we knew we had to win all three games to qualify for Asia Cup and that is what we did. We took it game by game and the boys fought back really well. This is a big tournament to showcase our talent, and this is a great opportunity for everyone on this squad," the captain was quoted saying by NDTv in the post-match presentation.
The victory came as a big upset for the UAE, considering they are ranked a mammoth 11 spots higher in the ICC T20I rankings and are even ahead of the likes of Ireland and Namibia in 12th. Nevertheless, this will be Hong Kong's fourth chance to qualify for the knockouts, having previously exited in the first round in 2004, 2008 and 2018.
"This is a proud moment for the Hong Kong team and for me as well. A big achievement for us. We stuck to the team plan, and we succeeded. I am targeting Virat Kohli in the Asia Cup because he is a great batsman. I will be playing in the Asia Cup for the second time and that is a big achievement for me," Ehsan Khan revealed.