2020 T20 World Cup Qualifier: Rohan Mustafa stars again as UAE thump Hong Kong to jump into top spot

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Mustafa finished with 2-17. Image credit - ICC.

Having been beaten comprehensively by Oman in their 2020 T20I World Cup Qualifier campaign opener, the UAE leaped into the top spot in Group B with their second victory in as many matches.

The hosts proved too good for Hong Kong at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium as they ran out emphatic victors by eight wickets. An impressive bowling display was at the heart of their win, with Hong Kong restricted to just 116-7 in their 20 overs after electing to bat first in Abu Dhabi.

Hong Kong in free fall with no Anshuman Rath

It is hard to believe this is nearly the same Hong Kong side which gave India a mighty scare in last year’s Asia Cup at the same venue, with Monday’s defeat condemning them to their third loss in as many games.

Having lost the services of skipper Anshuman Rath before the start of the tournament, Hong Hong’s fragile batting unit was shown up once again despite a promising opening stand. Nizakat Khan and Ahsan Abbasi added 40 runs for the first wicket but the team failed to capitalise on that start with UAE’s bowlers being tough to get away.

There were further contributions from the top-order with Hong Kong advancing to 93-2 at one stage, but a late collapse ensured that they were unable to post a total to challenge the hosts.

Rohan Mustafa derails Hong Kong’s innings

At 93-2 in the 15th over, Hong Kong would have hoped to add some vital runs in the death overs but that flourish never came, with Rohan Mustafa coming up with an excellent spell.

The UAE all-rounder had been the side’s star in their recent win over Ireland with four wickets and he added two more scalps to his name on Monday. While medium pacer Waheed Ahmed triggered Hong Kong’s collapse by dismissing their skipper Aizaz Khan, it was Mustafa who tightened the screws with an economical four-over spell that leaked just 17 runs.

Mustafa’s wickets of Haroon Arshad and Scott McKechnie ensured that the visitors would never recover in the death overs with the final 26 deliveries of the innings fetching them just the 23 runs.

Shahzad entertains with explosive 50 as hosts canter to a win

While the manner in which Hong Kong’s batsmen had struggled suggested that the pitch was a slow one, there were no such troubles for the UAE who romped home to a win with almost five overs to spare.

Despite Mustafa falling early in the fourth over of the run-chase, the hosts remained in total command with a 93-run stand for the second wicket between Chirag Suri and Rameez Shahzad.

Suri had failed to convert his two previous starts in the tournament but he made no such mistake on Monday in a 43-ball knock which yielded 44 runs. Shahzad, meanwhile, was more explosive in his unbeaten stay with the 31-year-old crashing three sixes and six fours on the way to registering a maiden T20I half-century.

Their stand knocked the stuffing out of Hong Kong’s bowling attack who found no joy at all on the Abu Dhabi pitch. With two wins out of three, the hosts have now put themselves in an excellent position to book their ticket to Australia next year.

Chirag Suri finally scores big. Image credit - ICC.

Chirag Suri finally scores big. Image credit – ICC.

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