Ireland suffered their second shock defeat of the World Twenty20 qualifiers as Hong Kong inflicted a five-run defeat on the home side in Malahide.
That defeat, coupled with Wednesday’s loss to Papua New Guinea, means Ireland will almost certainly miss out on automatic qualification to the semi-finals and will have to try to make the last four through next week’s play-offs.
Ireland won the toss and elected bowl in their penultimate Group A match, making two changes, one enforced, as Niall O'Brien had a scan on an injured knee. Tyrone Kane also dropped out as bowlers Stuart Thompson and Craig Young came in.
Ireland had an early success when opener Irfan Ahmed went in the second over for six off Young’s bowling with the score on eight before Anshuman Rath (22) and Nizakat Khan (25) took the score on to 52.
However, with the departure of Rath, who was bowled by George Dockrell in the 11th over, the Hong Kong innings tailed off, with Mark Chapman their top scorer as he made 30 off 25 deliveries.
In the end Hong Kong had to be content with making 129 for seven off their 20 overs.
Kevin O’Brien was the pick of the Irish bowling attack as he took three for 32 off his four overs.
A short sharp shower delayed Ireland’s reply and opener Andrew Balbirnie quickly departed for nine in the second over after being caught in the deep off the bowling of Haseeb Amjad.
Paul Stirling hit 34 off 26 deliveries, including scoring 20 runs off the sixth over which was bowled by Aizaz Kaha before he perished in the ninth over with the score on 52.
Kevin O’Brien made just five before he was run out in the 12th over and despite 28 from William Porterfield, Ireland were behind the run rate from a long way out
When Porterfield was bowled in the 17th over, the game was up, and Ireland surrendered tamely in the end.
Earlier in the day, Ireland had slipped to second place as Papua New Guinea went top courtesy of an easy win over Nepal.
Ireland’s final Group A game is against Jersey at 10am on Sunday in Malahide.