Unlucky number seven for Bermuda
Al Amerat Cricket Ground, Ministry Turf 2 (Hong won toss): Hong Kong (2pts) beat Bermuda by three wickets
Bermuda suffered heartbreak in the opening match of their Cricket World Cup Challenge League B programme yesterday when they failed to make the most of a solid batting performance and slumped to a seventh successive loss across two ICC competitions.
Switching from the Twenty20 format to the longer and more familiar 50 overs, head coach Herbie Bascome’s men appeared well placed to put the horrors of Dubai firmly behind them after reaching 291 for eight — driven by fifties from Kamau Leverock and the returning Tre Manders, and an inspirational late stand from Onias Bascome and Sinclair Smith.
But an unbeaten 116 from the precocious Kinchit Shah at No 4, and periods of Bermuda indiscipline with the ball, helped Hong Kong across the line for a crucial two points.
It was a tough loss for Bermuda to stomach from such a position of strength and mirrors the nip-and-tuck reversal in October against Singapore in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier that precipitated a disastrous run of six losses in six.
Leverock, who finished the previous tournament like a runaway train, picked up where he left off when asked to open the batting with captain Terryn Fray.
For the first 13 overs, it was like watching two different matches, as Leverock dealt largely in boundaries, starting from the very first ball he faced at the end of the first over, while Fray was pottering along.
By the time the captain, one of two in the Bermuda XI who remain habitual leg-before contenders, was trapped in front for five three balls into the sixth over, Leverock had sprinted to 30 from 17 balls. And the onslaught did not ease with the arrival of Manders.
The Southampton Rangers right-hander, who missed out on Dubai after breaking an ankle on the eve of Cup Match, ultimately showed his quality and why his reinstatement to the squad with very little cricket behind him was a no-brainer for the Bermuda selectors. But first he had to play a back-seat role as Leverock held court.
The left-hander brought up his half-century from only 30 balls with his eleventh four, and at the end of the tenth over, Bermuda sat smartly on 69 for one — a far cry from their powerplay struggles in Dubai.
When Manders hit the fourth ball of the next over for four, it was the first time that anyone other than Leverock had bothered the boundary ropes.
Leverock’s innings promised to be anything, his first six coming in the thirteenth over, but he was out next ball for 63, having faced only 40 balls and hit 13 fours.
One big wicket soon brought two for Hong Kong, as Delray Rawlins was next to go for only 11.
The Sussex left-hander attempted to break the shackles after a four-over spell that yielded only six runs when he was caught off the 25th ball he faced. And suddenly Bermuda were 114 for three in the 20th over, but with their two big guns back in the pavilion.
Enter Dion Stovell to partner club colleague Manders. The former captain, who finished in Dubai under a cloud and whose batting returns at this level have been underwhelming to say the least, performed in the manner of one who had laid down his burdens.
His 38 from 46 balls, with five fours, made him the dominant partner in a 72-run stand for the fourth wicket with Manders.
But he did not kick on.
Stovell’s dismissal exposed what is proving to be a soft underbelly in the middle order, as three wickets fell for two runs in eight balls to turn what was an imposing 204 for four in the 38th over to 206 for seven and an innings spiralling out of control.
Deunte Darrell was first to go for four from 13 balls, out leg-before for the third time in his past six innings, followed by Okera Bascome for a four-ball duck. Coach Bascome has a job on his hands justifying their continued inclusion.
Then went Manders for 63, the joint-high score of the innings, from 89 balls with four fours and two sixes.
The sudden predicament, after manager Irving Romaine suggested the day before that a par score would be in the region of 240, was rescued first by List A debutants Onias Bascome and Justin Pitcher, before the latter fell for a short-lived 15, and then by the arrival of wicketkeeper Smith.
Bascome, who could do with moving up the order in a better-balanced team, was 43 not out from 31 balls with five fours and two sixes, and Smith ended on 24 not out with four fours.
Slow left-arm bowler Aftab Hussain, 22, claimed three for 39 to lead the Hong Kong bowling and Shah, an off spinner, took two for 35.
Hong Kong’s first two wickets in the reply fell for 14 runs inside three overs, but they rarely looked troubled from there on, save for a Bascome-inspired blip at the 40-over mark.
As long as they had Shah at the wicket, Hong Kong will have felt they were in control of proceedings. And the 23-year-old, who celebrates his next birthday on Monday, did not disappoint in an innings that mixed patience with mid-innings aggression.
The more senior Nizakat Khan, 27, dominated the early recovery with a run-a-ball 62 that included four fours and three sixes before he snicked off to the second ball of Pitcher’s second spell to make captain Fray look like a genius.
It was then that Shah came to the fore, as he and Waqas Barkat, who made 66 from 58 balls, put on 126 for the fourth wicket to lay the platform for a winning chase.
Like Bermuda, Hong Kong also suffered a middle-order wobble, but the significant difference was that they had a batsman cash in on his start and bat through the innings.
Shah, whose strike-rate hovered at a modest 50.00 for much of his early innings, brought up his second fifty from only 42 balls as Hong Kong went into overdrive from the end of the 34th over — the next six bringing a telling 73 runs.
As much as Leverock threatened to take the game out of Hong Kong’s reach when he was batting, his wayward second spell of two overs that went for 28 with a solitary wicket went some ways to confirming Bermuda’s downfall.
Included in the onslaught were four fours, a six, three wides and a no-ball, as Barkat rattled along at better than a run-a-ball before he was bowled by Leverock.
Two quick wickets for Bascome, who ended with a commendable two for 49 from his allotted ten overs, reduced Hong Kong to 254 for seven to give Bermuda a glimpse but Shah was too cool and too good in the end, the final runs coming at a canter in partnership with Ehsan Khan, who was an unflustered 12 not out.
Pitcher impressed with two for 52 from ten overs but Leverock’s eight overs went for 67 and Kyle Hodsoll was not trusted to come back after his six overs went for 44.
A deeply wounded Bermuda, who looked on enviously as Italy upset Kenya on the adjoining pitch, are next in action on Friday against Uganda.
Further matches are scheduled against Italy, Jersey and Kenya to complete the first series of matches that comprise Challenge League B.
Each team will play 15 matches in total in the next two years, with only the group winner moving on to the next stage of qualification for the 2023 World Cup in India.
*T S Fray lbw b Ehsan Khan 5
K S Leverock c Waqas Barkat b Aftab Hussain 63
T Manders c Shahid Wasif b Waqas Barkat 63
D M W Rawlins c Shahid Wasif b Shah 11
D C Stovell b Aftab Hussain 38
D A P Darrell lbw b Aftab Hussain 4
O Bascome c and b Waqas Barkat 0
O G L Bascome not out 43
J E Pitcher c Shahid Wasif b Shah 15
†S Smith not out 24
Extras (lb 3, nb 1, w 21) 25
Total (8 wkts; 50 overs) 291
K C Hodsoll did not bat.
Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-85, 3-114, 4-186, 5-204, 6-205, 7-206, 8-226.
Bowling: Aizaz Khan 7-0-65-0; Nasrulla Rana 6-1-50-0; Shah 10-2-35-2l Ehsan Khan 10-0-56-1; Aftab Hussain 10-0-39-3; Waqas Barkat 7-0-43-2.
Ahsan Abbasi c Smith b Pitcher 1
Nizakat Khan c Smith b Pitcher 62
Shahid Wasif c Smith b Hodsoll 5
K D Shah not out 116
Waqas Barkat b Leverock 66
Haroon Arshad lbw b O G L Bascome 2
*Aizaz Khan b O G L Bascome 2
†A Bhagwat c O Bascome b Rawlins 1
Ehsan Khan not out 12
Extras (nb 5, w 22) 27
Total (7 wkts; 49.2 overs) 294
Nasrulla Rana and Aftab Hussain did not bat.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-14, 3-108, 4-234, 5-244, 6-253, 7-254.
Bowling: Hodsoll 6-0-44-1; Pitcher 10-0-52-2; Rawlins 10-0-44-1; Leverock 8-0-67-1; O G L Bascome 10-0-49-2; Stovell 5.2-0-38-0.
Umpires: V Kumar (Nepal) and S Sam (United Arab Emirates).
Match referee: M Nayyar (India)
Al Amerat Cricket Ground, Ministry Turf 1 (Italy won toss): Kenya 210 (49.4 overs; I A Karim 71; M J Ross 4 for 35); Italy 211-6 (47 overs; N L Smith 102 not out; C O Obuya 3 for 38). Italy (2pts) beat Kenya by four wickets.
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