Boundary for Aizaz Mohammed KhanPapua New Guinea and Hong Kong will participate in Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in April after hosts Hong Kong defeated PNG by 93 runs at Hong Kong Cricket Club (HKCC) on Friday.

While the victory gave Hong Kong the required points to win promotion, PNG still topped the table at the conclusion of the round-robin section of the tournament after the side from the East-Asia Pacific region won four out five of its matches this week.

Having won the toss and elected to field at HKCC, PNG managed to limit the Hong Kong side to 221 runs in 49 overs, with Hussain Butt the batsman of note for the hosts. The 34-year-old made 68 runs of 102 balls to help the side to a reasonable total, he was assisted by Nizakat Khan who scored 36.

Hitolo Areni and his captain Rarua Dikana continued to be the in-form bowlers for PNG, with the duo claiming three wickets each.

However, when PNG’s batsmen took to the field the side failed to spark against some tight bowling from the local team. Nadeem Ahmed was the pick of the Hong Kong bowlers with 3-36 while PNG’s Kila Pala was the top scoring batsman with a mere 22 runs.

Hong Kong’s bowlers prevailed and despite Dikana’s 19 not out the side were all out for 128 after the departure of Loa Nou for seven runs after the 23-year-old was caught by Butt off the bowling of Hong Kong captain Najeeb Amar.

Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke was pleased with the side’s performance in winning promotion today but is focussing on winning the entire event before looking ahead to WCL Div. 2 in April.

“We talked about how we could beat PNG today and knew if we batted first it would be important to make as many runs as possible before our bowlers could get to work on the PNG side.

“The important thing for us was to remain focussed and we knew by putting PNG under pressure the side would become vulnerable which they did today. We beat them in a warm-up game without our full strength squad so we knew we had the ability today to beat them, and our ability and strength showed today.

“There are plenty of quality sides in Division 2 but my focus since taking this role has been about securing promotion. We have the promotion but this league isn’t over and we want to win the entire tournament in front of our home crowd before we focus our attention to the new challenges and teams Division 2 will throw at us,” said Burke.

PNG captain Dikana was of mixed emotions with the team promoted but losing the final round-robin match.

“We’re obviously disappointed with our play and commitment in the loss to Hong Kong today. Today was Hong Kong’s final as they battled for survival in the tournament and they were the better side on the day. Congratulations to a well prepared side that fought hard and showed strong spirit.

“We have a rematch to see who will take home the title of Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3 champions and I know my team have the ability to take the trophy home to PNG as the best side in the tournament. Our complete focus is on tomorrow as we take one step at a time. Tomorrow is a new ball game,” said Dikana.

Saturday’s final will see PNG play Hong Kong at Kowloon Cricket Club, Italy will face Oman in the third/fourth play-off at HKCC while Denmark will play USA at Mission Road in the fifth/sixth play-off.