By Spy Uganda
Riazat Ali Khan’s hit an unbeaten 28 and Dinesh Nakrani took four wickets for just 12 runs as Uganda beat Hong Kong by two wickets in their opening game of the T20 World Cup qualifiers in Uganda on Monday.
In a low-scoring game that went down to the wire, Riazat and bowler Cosmas Kyewuta scrambled the two runs they needed to win with just three balls and two wickets remaining.
Hong Kong ultimately paid the price for a bad day with the bat, where they were restricted to 87 for nine from their 20 overs.
Still, they came within a whisker of pulling off an unlikely victory, as Uganda did their best to throw away a game they should have won with ease.
Aizaz Khan gave his side a glimmer of hope, taking three wickets at the start of the innings to leave Uganda wobbling on 23 for three, and the loss of Ronak Patel, who at one stage looked like he might win the game on his own, turned the wobble into a collapse.
Last month, Hong Kong bowled Uganda out for 94 in their Challenge League B encounter and when it became 63 for seven, Hong Kong must have fancied their chances of defending their low total.
But Riazat and Frank Nsuguba (10) steadied things, and although their side needed the final over, Uganda ultimately got across the line with balls to spare as they finished on 88 for eight.
Fittingly, on a day Hong Kong will want to forget in a hurry, the winning runs came when Riazat skied a Haroon Arshad delivery to third man and Aizaz Khan was unable to get his hands on the ball as he dove to take the catch.
Things were little better with the bat for Hong Kong, who took 12 runs off Kyewuta’s first six balls and then did not hit another boundary until the 10th over.
Captain Nizakat Khan started his side’s baffling day at the crease on the first ball of the second over, inexplicably deciding to try and sweep a straight one from spinner Frank Nsuguba and getting himself trapped lbw.
Aizaz Khan followed shortly thereafter to a fine one-handed catch from Riazat Ali Shah off Kyewuta’s bowling, reducing his side to 14 for two.
Babar Hayat and Kinchit Shah steadied the ship, albeit briefly, but their inability to get the ball off the square meant the pressure built steadily, and Hayat holed out to Roger Mukasa at deep mid-on having made just nine runs from 23 deliveries.
From 30 for three, Shah and Zeeshan Ali then combined for the biggest stand of the innings, putting on 34 for the fourth wicket, only for Ali to charge a delivery from Dinesh Nakrani and sky it to Nsuguba running in from the deep cover boundary.
Although none of the Uganda bowlers disgraced themselves, Nakrani had the best figures, taking four wickets for 12 runs from his four overs.
Shah, who made 37, and Ali (11) were the only batters to get into double figures, and once Ali departed the slide began in earnest.
Haroon Arshad (1) was clean bowled by Riazat, Yasim Murtaza (3) was trapped lbw by Nakrani, and Ayush Shukla’s dismissal for a golden duck, taking a wild swing at another straight one from Nakrani, largely summed up his side’s display with the bat.