Hong Kong and Sri Lanka have reached the semi-finals of the Asian Games men's cricket tournament after beating Malaysia and hosts South Korea respectively today in Incheon.

Malaysia, fresh from beating China and South Korea in the first round, won the toss and chose to bat first against seeded side Hong Kong. Skipper Ahmed Fiaz led the way for much of their innings, scoring 45 before Nizakat Khan got him out lbw from the last ball of the 18th over.

Nadeem Ahmed bowled superbly for Hong Kong, taking 3-9 as they kept Malaysia to a total of 129-7 from their 20 overs. With no team having passed 100 previously in the tournament, it was potentially a tricky run chase for a Hong Kong side missing a few of their first choice players due to the Asian Games eligibility rules.

And it soon looked even trickier as Irfan Ahmed got out for 1 in the first over and opening partner Waqas Barkat followed him back to the dressing room in the fourth over with the score on 18. But captain Jamie Atkinson and Nizakat Khan got the run chase back on track with a 68 run partnership for the third wicket.

That partnership ended when Atkinson was out for 39, but Khan put on an unbroken 44 for the fourth wicket to take Hong Kong to a seven wicket victory. Khan finished not out on 63, scored from 48 balls, the first fifty of the tournament. Hong Kong will face the winner of the Afghanistan v Nepal quarter final in Thursday's semi-finals.

The other quarter final of the day was between Sri Lanka, being represented by what is essentially a Sri Lankan A side, and the hosts South Korea, fresh from their win over China yesterday. It was always likely to be a big win for Sri Lanka, but South Korea performed better than many would have expected.

Shehan Jayasuriya was out for a duck in the first over, Taekwan Park taking the wicket. Sri Lanka then took the game away from the hosts, with Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal put on 126 for the second wicket before Tharanga was out having scored 54. Chandimal went on to score 83 from 51 balls before he was out in the 17th over.

Remarkably though, they were the only Sri Lankan batsman to reach double figures, as South Korea kept them to under 200. Sri Lanka made 172-8 from their 20 overs. Amongst the carnage, Taekwan Park emerged with a lot of credit. A year ago he was a struggling side arm baseball pitcher. Now a left-arm pace bowler, he took 4-16 in four overs against a team of professional cricketers. Quite an achievement.

South Korea were never going to get close to that target, but they did manage to bat until the 17th over, scoring 55. Kyungsik Kim was the only batsman to reach double figures, scoring 12. Chaturanga de Silva was the pick of the bowlers with 3-8.

Sri Lanka will play the winner of the Bangladesh v Kuwait quarter final in their semi-final on Thursday. For South Korea, the question is simply, "what next?". They have no fixtures scheduled for the immediate future, though one would certainly hope their performances here may warrant a late inclusion in the EAP T20 qualifier set for Australia in November.

Questions remain over whether the Korean government will continue their investment in cricket. The "legacy" question always comes up when talking about multi-sport games. There is certainly potential in South Korean cricket. But will they have the opportunities to live up to that potential? Lack of interest and investment from the government - and the ICC - may well prevent it.


Hong Kong beat Malaysia by 7 wickets
Yeonhui Cricket Ground, Incheon, 30 September
Malaysia 129-7 (20 overs, Ahmed Fiaz 45, Nadeem Ahmed 3-9)
Hong Kong 130-3 (19.4 overs, Nizakat Khan 63*, J Atkinson 39)

South Korea lost to Sri Lanka by 117 runs
Yeonhui Cricket Ground, Incheon, 30 September
Sri Lanka 172-8 (20 overs, D Chandimal 83, U Tharanga 54, Taekwan Park 4-16)
South Korea 55 (16.4 overs, C de Silva 3-8)