Hong Kong chased down a target of 86 in the last over against Tanzania in a dramatic final to clinch the Hong Kong Women's T20I Trophy.
Needing 31 to win off the last 43 balls, the home side looked to be cruising toward their target until Natasha Miles smashed Sophia Jerome into the hands of Monica Pascal at cover to get dismissed for 27.
More tight bowling from a spirited Tanzania pushed the required rate close to five runs an over before Maryam Bibi slogged Sheila Kizito for four, beating the outstretched hands of a diving Hudaa Omary at mid on.
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Tied down by Tanzania's constant pressure, Emma Lai tried to break free, only managing to sky Aisha Mohamed straight into the hands of Saum Mtae in the circle.
With 16 required off the last three overs, Mohamed dropped Bibi at long on, giving her a second life and allowing her to get through for a second run. Bibi was again put down, this time at mid wicket, and once again crossed through for a second run in a seven-run penultimate over, which also included two wide balls.
With three required off the last six balls and new batter Elysa Hubbard at the crease, Tanzania were still in with a chance. Hubbard, however, dashed the visitors' hopes, sweeping Jerome into deep square leg for four to seal a dramatic win as Hong Kong's dugout and a rapturous home crowd stormed the field.
"This is a fairy tale ending," said Player of the Match Mariko Hill, whose five wickets for two runs helped bowl Tanzania out in the 19th over.
"Half of us in the team pretty much grew up playing here [at the Hong Kong Cricket Club]. I started playing here when I was 11 on this exact ground."
Earlier in the day, Tanzania found themselves in trouble at 48 for four in the 11th over after Iqra Sahar took two wickets off successive balls, including Neema Pius who was caught behind after edging an attempted drive to wicket keeper Lemon Cheung.
Monica Pascal's fluent 42 guided them to 76 with four overs and five wickets in hand. Hill, however, produced a devastating spell of quick bowling to snare all five wickets in just 10 balls, including Pascal who missed an inswinger that hooped in to bowl her.
"Keeping the stumps in play was always my plan. If they miss, I hit. That was the strategy," said Hill.
Hong Kong coach Andy Cottam hailed Sunday's win as a team effort and spoke about the value of playing high-pressure games.
"It was a good battle," he said.
"The girls hadn't really been tested under pressure. It was the first time that other batters [outside the top three] were involved in the win and that's what you like to see."
Hong Kong's next international fixtures are yet to be confirmed. Nonetheless, the series serves as important preparation ahead of the Asia Cup Qualifiers, scheduled for May 2024 in Nepal.
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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