Hong Kong defeated Malaysia by six wickets in a high-stakes match at the ACC Asia Cup T20 Eastern Region qualifiers in Bangkok to reach the next stage of qualifying.
The victory saw Hong Kong finish second to Singapore in the five-team round-robin league to advance to the final qualifying round in August as Malaysia finished third to miss out.
Singapore finished top of the standings with seven points after their match against Nepal, which had been rendered academic by three previous wins, was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Malaysia posted a below-par total of 132-6 which Hong Kong surpassed with seven balls to spare as Shahid Washif hit 50 to avenge a 5-0 series defeat just before arriving in Bangkok.
Dhivendran Mogan came in for Ariff Jamaludeen in the sole change from Malaysia’s defeat to Singapore on Tuesday against an unchanged Hong Kong line-up, who also lost to Singapore on Wednesday.
Those defeats set up a what was effectively a knockout game between Malaysia and Hong Kong to decide the second team to qualify from the Eastern Region after Singapore secured their spot earlier.
On winning the toss, Malaysia’s opening batting woes struck again when just five balls in, Anwar Arudin drove straight to cover where Kinchit Shah took a comfortable waist-high catch off Aizaz Khan for a duck.
Controversy surrounded Anwar’s dismissal when captain Ahmad Faiz Mohammad Noor queried Kinchit’s position relative to the 30-yard circle. The match umpire upheld the dismissal and the match resumed at 3-1 after a 10-minute delay.
Aftab Hussain induced Khizar Hayat Durrani (22) to top edge the ball towards Kinchit at deep square leg, ending a 53-run stand with Virandeep, who followed soon after with a slog-sweep off Waqas Barkat to long-on, after hitting four fours and a six off 30 balls for 33 runs.
At 60-3 after 10 overs, Malaysia needed to step up the run-rate but lost Faiz (17) when when he was caught at the deep having hit a six and a four in the preceding two deliveries off Ehsan Khan.
Malaysia reached 100 runs with 22 balls remaining as Syed Aziz and Aminuddin Ramly sought to boost the team’s tally and the former hit a four and a six consecutively to yield 13 runs off the 17th over.
Aminuddin (6), however, became the fifth batsman to exit on 114 with 16 balls left, before Aizaz had Syed Aziz caught for 30 at backward square leg by Kinchit, who took his third catch.
That left Sharvin Muniandy and Fitri Sham to score 13 runs off the last 11 balls.
Malaysia achieved an early breakthrough when Pavandeep trapped Nizakat Khan (6) leg-before Kinchit (17) also fell lbw to Syazrul Ezat Idrus to leave Hong Kong at 39-2.
The runs began to dry up for Hong Kong, who reached 55-3 inside 10 overs, after Pavandeep took a catch at long-on as Fitri Sham dismissed Waqas Khan (2).
But Washif reached his half-century in 47 balls before Pavandeep returned for his final spell to have the opener stumped and break a 60-run partnership with Jamie Atkinson. Washif smashed five fours and a six off 49 balls for his 50.
Hong Kong then took a pivotal 13 runs off Khizar in the 18th over to leave them needing eight off 12 balls for the win, which Atkinson clinched with a boundary through a gap to finish unbeaten on 33 alongside Haroon Arshad (19).
Malaysia 132-6 in 20 overs (Virandeep Singh 33, Syed Aziz 30, Khizar Hayat 22, Aizaz Khan 2-24)
Hong Kong 133-4 in 18.5 overs (Shahid Washif 50, Jamie Atkinson 33 not out, Haroon Arshad 19 not out, Pavandeep Singh 2-32)
Result: Hong Kong won by six wickets
Singapore v Nepal abandoned
Advancing to final qualifying stage: Singapore, Hong Kong