The Hong Kong cricket team led by Anshuman Rath, will begin its campaign at the 2018 Asia Cup, to be held in the UAE from September 15-28, against Pakistan on September 16.
The Hong Kong cricket team led by Anshuman Rath, will begin its campaign at the 2018 Asia Cup, to be held in the UAE from September 15-28, against Pakistan on September 16.

The Hong Kong cricket team led by Anshuman Rath, will begin its campaign at the 2018 Asia Cup, to be held in the UAE from September 15-28, against Pakistan on September 16.

Hong Kong are placed in Group A of the Asia Cup along with Pakistan and India. Rath’s team will  play India on September 18. The top two teams from each group will enter the Super Four, from which the final two will meet in Dubai for the final on September 28.

Here’s a look at Hong Kong’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the Asia Cup.

Squad make-up:

Batsmen: Nizakat Khan, Babar Hayat, Christopher Carter, Cameron McAulsan, Waqas Khan, Aftab Hussain

Allrounders: Aizaz Khan

Wicketkeepers: Scott McKechnie, Anshuman Rath, Kinchit Shah

Fast bowlers: Tanwir Afzal, Ehsan Nawaz, Arshad Mohammad, Raag Kapur, Tanveer Ahmed

Spinners: Ehsan Khan, Nadeem Ahmed

X-factor: Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat. The top-order duo of skipper Rath and veteran Hayat finished as the second and the third highest run-getters in the Asia Cup 2018 Qualifiers with 209 and 196 runs, respectively and proved to be the bedrock of Hong Kong’s successful campaign after they were shocked by Malaysia in the opener.

Strengths: While with Rath and Hayat’s recent form Hong Kong’s the duo could be the game changers for Hong Kong, but the two key men who took Hong Kong to the title were spinner Nadeem Ahmed and Ehsan Khan. Nadeem finished as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 while Eshan was the third best with 11. What was impressive was they conceded runs at an economy of 3.46 and 3.80.

Weaknesses: Lack of international exposure. While Hong Kong did qualify for T20 World Cup in 2016, they won’t be a match either Pakistan or India.

Head-to-Head: Hong Kong have played Pakistan twice in the Asia Cup with defeats in both the matches. Against India, their only encounter (in 2008) ended in a massive 256-run loss.

Prediction: It is near to impossible for Hong Kong to qualify from the group consisting India and Pakistan. At best, they could aim to reduce the margin of defeats in comparison to previous results against the team.

Probable XI: 1 Nizakat, 2 Anshuman (capt), 3 Babar, 4 Kinchit, 5 Carter, 6 Ehsan, 7 Aizaz, 8 McKechnie, 9 Afzal, 10 Nawaz, 11 Nadeem

Fixtures:

September 16 v Pakistan, Dubai (5pm IST)

September 18 v India, Dubai (5pm IST)