Hong Kong's hopes of qualifying for the main round of the Asia Cup T20 were extinguished by Mohammad Shahzad as UAE won by six wickets to move to the top of the points table with one game to play.
If it was Rohan Mustafa who led the way in their tournament opener against Afghanistan, Shahzad put his hand up to make a 39-ball 52 in the chase of 147 as UAE crossed the line with nine balls to spare. In doing so, they also ensured their net run rate received a boost, a factor that could decide the qualifier if teams are tied on points.
Hong Kong, who opted to bat, were struggling at 26 for 2. It took the belligerence of the in-form Babar Hayat to give them the momentum, even as Mark Chapman's aggression fetched 29 runs off just 17 balls. Hayat, who made 122 in a losing cause in Hong Kong's opener, hit eight fours in his 45-ball 54, before being dismissed in the 16th over. That allowed UAE to apply the choke as they conceded just 24 off the last five overs, with Mohammad Naveed, the pacer, finishing with figures of 3 for 14.
With perhaps lesser runs than they would have liked, Hong Kong prised out the wickets of Mustafa and Muhammad Kaleem to leave UAE at 22 for 2. Shahzad, who came in to bat at No. 3, arrested the wobble and heped UAE steered ahead of the asking rate during the course of a third-wicket stand of 79 with Muhammad Usman (41). Shahzad took the game right till the end in Shaiman Anwar's company, before Amjad Javed, the captain, sealed the deal with a straight six.
Having come up with two dominating displays, UAE have a straightforward equation. A win against Oman will see them through to the main round, while a loss that coincides with an Afghanistan win over Hong Kong could force a three-way tie in terms of points.