2018 has been roller coaster ride for Hong Kong. The year started with a heartbreak when they lost their ODI status during the World Cup Qualifiers, but that did not let them lose their confidence. They bounced back quickly and at the right time to clinch the only spot for the Asia Cup 2018.
They beat UAE in the Qualifiers final. This tournament might not have a stature of a World Cup or Champions Trophy but for a team like Hong Kong, this is an opportunity they don’t get often. They will be starting their campaign today with a match against Pakistan.
Both the teams have played two ODIs against each other with men in green winning both the matches quite comprehensively. Their last clash took place in 2008 Asia Cup, where Pakistan gave a target of 289 after batting first. In reply, Hong Kong could only manage to score 133 runs in 38 overs. Pakistan won the match by whopping 155 runs.
The year is 2018 and Pakistan are considered to be the obvious favorites to win the 14th edition of Asia Cup. This game might be a platform to make themselves accustomed to the conditions and gain some momentum before taking on India. Their confidence would be on all-time high as they are entering the tournament with a 5-0 series win against Zimbabwe and they will look to replicate this good form during the Asia Cup as well.
They have a balanced side but their strength lies in their bowling attack. The bowling attack features the likes of Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, and Hasan Ali. The pace trio will offer a lot of variations with deadly pace.
All eyes will be on Shaheen Afridi as he is making his ODI debut for Pakistan. The 17-year-old grabbed the headlines while playing for Lahore Qalandars in the 2018 edition of Pakistan Super League. He produced one of the most lethal spells of fast bowling and took 5 wickets by giving away just 4 runs.
While in batting, they will highly rely on the opening due of Fakhar Zaman and Imam Ul Haq. Zaman is coming off a fantastic ODI series in Zimbabwe where he finished the highest run-getter with 515 runs. While Babar Azam will be another name that is expected to score runs up front.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong will be relying on their batting to move forward in the game and the tournament. Babar Hayat, Anshuman Rath, and Nizakat Khan will be the players to watch out for in the HKG’s batting line-up. Babar is the highest run-getter for the team in ODIs (759 runs in 20 matches). Anshuman has been one of their best batsmen and was their best batsman in the Asia Cup Qualifiers with 209 runs and skipper will be expected to lead from the front. Nizakat has best ODI strike rate for Hong Kong.
All the three batsmen will look to give Hong Kong a solid start.
When it comes to bowling, the skipper will look to the likes of Nadeem Ahmed, Ehsan Khan, and Tanwir Afzal. Left-arm spinner Nadeem is HKG’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs and was their most successful player in Asia Cup Qualifier with 14 wickets in 6 matches.
Their team will be coming into this match with high hopes and a belief that they can cause an upset. However, Pakistan will be looking forward to dashing their hopes and ruin Hong Kong’s fairytale moment.
Hong Kong’s squad - Anshuman Rath(c), Aizaz Khan, Babar Hayat, Cameron McAulsan, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Arshad Mohammad, Kinchit Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Raag Kapur, Scott McKechnie, Tanveer Ahmed, Tanwir Afzal, Waqas Khan, Aftab Hussain
Pakistan’s complete squad - Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar