Hong Kong’s pursuit of Zimbabwe’s 158 for eight spluttered to a halt 14 short of the target in their ICC World Twenty 20 championship qualifying round match here on Tuesday.
Holding their nerve in the contest’s closing stages, Zimbabwe’s bowlers bottled up the islanders, Tendai Chatara even verging on a hat-trick in the run-up to victory.
On the run-chase, Hong Kong lost fewer wickets but frequently fell short in the scoring rate.
Past the half-way stage, it stepped on the gas, Jamie Atkinson’s (53, 4x4, 2x6) huge sixes perking up the pace.
Following in his footsteps, the middle-order heaved at everything that came its way, which brought in the boundaries but cost it dear in the outfield.
Earlier, reeling at 62 for four, a 51-ball 61-run fifth-wicket stand between Vusi Sibanda (59, 5x4, 2x6) and Malcolm Waller revived Zimbabwe.
Elton Chigumbura’s unbeaten cameo lower down the order, adorned with three boundary clearing blows, saw respectability restored for the African side.
When the tournament got under way, Hamilton Masakadza was quick on the draw, three boundaries and a six lighting up his short stay.
An attempted single proved ill-fated for the Zimbabwe skipper as he failed to ground his bat. Undeterred, Sibanda cut loose, his drives taking off like tracer fire towards the ropes.
A six brought up his half-century en route to his highest score in the shortened format.
Hong Kong made quick inroads early in the game, having Richard Mutmbami caught short of the sightscreen ropes off Tanwir.
Sean Williams sought to smear the rival skipper all over the place but chopped onto his stumps.
Sikandar Raza’s run out vindicated Hong Kong’s decision to bowl first, its dominant attack backed by fine fielding.
The scores: Zimbabwe 158 for eight (Vusi Sibanda 59, Malcolm Waller 26, Elton Chigumbura 30 n.o., Tanwir Afzal two for 19, Aizaz Khan two for 33) bt Hong Kong 144 for six (Jamie Atkinson 53, Tanwir Afzal 31 n.o., Donald Tiripano two for 27, Tendai Chatara two for 28). Man-of-the-match: Vusi Sibanda.