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Asia Cup 2022

Asia Cup 2022 Qualifier: Hong Kong team preview, squad, schedule, key players

Ehsan Khan Hong Kong Asia Cup 2018
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Cricket was played in Hong Kong even before China had ceded it to Britain at the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. The first inter-port cricket match, a long-standing bilateral contest between Shanghai and Hong Kong, dates back to 1866. Since then, they have appeared in numerous ACC and ICC tournaments, but their greatest contribution remains the Hong Kong Super Sixes – a curious cricketing format that often featured some of the finest cricketers in the world.

Hong Kong qualified for the T20 World Cup in 2014 and 2016. In the first, they beat Bangladesh by two wickets in Chattogram after left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed (4-21) routed the hosts for 108. Hong Kong were reduced to 50-5, but forty-year-old Munir Dar saw them home. It remains Hong Kong’s only win from six matches in the tournament.

Hong Kong played in the Asia Cup in both 2004 and 2008 – before nearly pulling off an upset in 2018. Pakistan bowled them out for 116, and few gave them a chance after India posted 285-7. But Nizakat Khan (92) and Anshuman Rath (73) stepped up, and at one point they needed a mere 112 in 96 balls with all 10 wickets in hand. They eventually finished on 259-8.

Over the years, Hong Kong have played 49 T20Is, of whom they have won 18 and lost 31. The numbers do not seem impressive, but there is a catch. On one hand, they have reasonably good records against major sides like Bangladesh (1-0), Ireland (2-2), and Afghanistan (2-3); on the other, they have fared poorly against Scotland (1-4), Oman (1-7), and Malaysia (1-5).

Hong Kong made it to the Qualifiers of the 2022 Asia Cup by virtue of finishing at second place in the 2020 ACC Eastern Region T20, in Bangkok. Reduced to a five-team affair after China, Myanmar, and Bhutan all withdrew due to COVID-19, the tournament was played in round-robin format.

They began with a 43-run win against Nepal, largely due to Nizakat Khan’s 29-ball 48, Haroon Arshad’s 5-16, and Aftab Hussain’s 3-14. They then restricted Thailand to 77/8 to win by eight wickets. Then came the crucial match, against eventual champions Singapore. Jamie Atkinson (50 in 45 balls) kept Hong Kong in the hunt after Singapore posted 168/5. At 125-8 they seemed to have run out of steam before wicketkeeper Scott McKechnie and Ehsan Khan hit out to take them to 152-8.

Hong Kong lost, but the late flourish kept their net run rate well ahead of third-placed Malaysia. It did not matter in the end, for their match against Malaysia turned out to be a virtual knockout for the second spot. No Hong Kong bowler conceded more than eight an over, and Malaysia were restricted to 132-6. Hong Kong soon became 46-3 before Shahid Wasif (50 in 49 balls) and Atkinson (33 not out in 26) saw them home.

Hong Kong’s main problem lies in the lack of a power hitter. They do have depth in their batting, but barring Haroon (290 runs, strike rate 134), none of them strikes at over 125. On the other hand, their bowlers – left-arm spinner Aftab (16-1-71-8), medium-pacer Haroon (14.1-1-88-7), and off-spinner Ehsan (15-1-78-6) all finished towards the top of the bowling charts in the qualifiers.

Key players

Haroon Arshad

Haroon is in prime form. As recently as on August 11, he routed Italy with 7-31 before scoring 37 down the order – albeit in 50-over cricket. Apart from bowling well in the qualifiers, he also played quick cameos against Nepal and Malaysia. Not yet 23, he is definitely one for the future.

Nizakat Khan

As mentioned above, Nizakat had almost stunned India last time. Last month, he blasted a 55-ball 81 to help Hong Kong beat Singapore. The Hong Kong captain is also their leading run-scorer in the format (889), though his career strike rate of 124 can probably improve.


Yet to be announced

Hong Kong’s schedule (all matches at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground Turf 1, Muscat):

August 20, vs Singapore (1800 local time)
August 23, vs Kuwait (1800 local time)
August 24, vs UAE (1900 local time)

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