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After the match against Uganda was abandoned and resulted in a point split, USA was left with no option but to win the two remaining matches, both against tough opponents - Hong Kong and UAE. Hong Kong and UAE both had just one loss in this tournament.
Pic (Right): USA's best chance to resurrect their campaign collapsed when their match against Uganda had to be abandoned due to rain on Thursday (Credit: ICC/Getty).
For USA, the mission was simple - Team USA needed to dig deep into their reserves to prove that they were no punching bag.
The exasperated team management has tried all sorts of permutations in the bowling department (short of giving the ball to the age-defying Assistant Coach Nasir 'Charlie' Javed, which is not something USA management has shied away from in the past). For the match against Hong Kong, Fahad Babar was brought in to strengthen the batting triggering further changes to the batting order. And Imran Awan was reintroduced to the bowling attack.
To their credit, USA began reasonably well and only 28 runs were conceded in the first five overs. Karan Ganesh, who has bowled well throughout the tournament, managed to get the prize scalp of Irfan Ahmed, the opener who has a century against his name in this tournament. Danial Ahmed was effective as well, getting Waqas Barkat in the seventh over.
With the openers gone and the score reading 45 for 2, USA was on the right trajectory, but that was when Hong Kong's formidable batting showed its mettle. A 118-run third wicket partnership for the third wicket between the captain Jamie Atkinson (74) and Nizakat Khan (57) lasted into the final over. Facing a target of 170, USA's batsmen really needed to shine from the start.
Steve Taylor and Fahad Babar started steadily and held their nerves until Fahad Babar was bowled by Munir Dar in the sixth. Akeem Dodson was the new batsman in but he was gone for a duck and Munir was now on a hat-trick.
Hong Kong bowlers cranked up the pressure dial, and after Steve Taylor (23 from 29 balls) was dismissed by Nadeem Ahmed, the downfall truly began. Only Karan Ganesh (29) showed any staying power as Munir Dar bowled a glorious 3.1 overs conceding 17 runs and taking four wickets. Hong Kong put an end to USA's chase in 19.1 overs inflicting a 67-run defeat further damaging USA's already dismal NRR. It has now slipped to -1.836.
With just one match remaining against the stronger UAE outfit, doors have pretty much closed on USA for Bangladesh. Mathematically, USA can still finish fifth but for that to happen, USA has to defeat UAE; AND Italy must lose to both Canada and UAE; AND Namibia has to win against both Uganda and Canada.
Full Scorecard and Ball-by-Ball: http://www.icc-cricket.com/match/worldt20q-2013/60