Hong Kong Cricket pulled off an upset for the UAE, who host the 2022 Asia Cup, by eliminating them to confirm their spot in the competition. We have heard very little about this Chinese province in cricket that is slowly establishing itself in the sport. In their recent clash with the Indian side, Hong Kong fought bravely as they took on a mighty force. Their valiant effort was applauded by everyone in the cricket fraternity, albeit the match resulted in a defeat.
Let us look at some of their aspects and see what’s in store for Hong Kong Cricket in the 2022 Asia Cup.
Hong Kong in cricket
Cricket was introduced by the British in the Chinese province of Hong Kong in the 19th century. It took Hong Kong another 100 years to finally become an independent cricket body in the eyes of the ICC. Hong Kong, which was an autonomous state in 1969 under British influence, became an associate member of the ICC.
However, it wasn’t until the dawn of the 21st century that the Chinese province was seen as a legitimate team. Hong Kong is now amongst the top underdogs in world cricket, climbing its way through the ranks. They have made it to the 2022 Asia Cup after excelling in the qualifiers. Now they play amongst the likes of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, former World Champions of cricket.
Hong Kong players
Surprisingly, the Hong Kong national team has no Chinese player in the squad. The Hong Kong squad mainly comprises Pakistani and Indian players. Their players include Yasim Murtuza and skipper Nizakat Khan, both from Pakistan. Their primary wicketkeeper is an England-born Scott McKechnie. Kinchit Shah and Ayush Shukla are the two Indians in the squad.
To think the influence of cricket is so massive, that players from the Indian subcontinent make great efforts to make the most of the opportunities in a foreign land, is commendable.
Hong Kong’s recent form
Hong Kong’s last three matches were in the Asia Cup qualifiers, where they faced Singapore, Kuwait and the UAE. The Chinese province emphatically won all three matches to secure their Asia Cup spot. The likes of Babar Hayat and Yasim Murtaza were impressive with the bat as they clobbered the opposition.
From their last three matches, it seems that Hong Kong are very comfortable with scoring runs over 140 in T20 cricket. They have successfully chased targets of over 150 with balls to spare. It only goes to suggest that Hong Kong, being a relatively smaller team, will put up a tough fight. They started impressively giving India a slight headache before falling short of the target.
History of Hong Kong vs India
India have only played Hong Kong once back in the 2018 Asia Cup. It was an ODI match where the Men in Blue put up a target of 286 for Hong Kong. Shikhar Dhawan took centre-stage with a brilliant 127-run knock. However, the surprising bit was how prolific the Hong Kong bowlers were. Kinchit Shah took three wickets that night, dismissing Dhawan along with Dinesh Karthik and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Indian captain MS Dhoni was dismissed for a duck by Ehsan Khan.
In the second innings, Nizakat Khan overwhelmed the Indian bowlers with the bat scoring 92 against the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Shardul Thakur. For a while, it seemed like the side might get the better of the Men in Blue. However, the match ended in India’s favour as they won by 26 runs.
The fact that the Indian bowlers could not bowl out the Hong Kong batting order was perhaps a lesson that this team is not to be taken lightly.
India beat Hong Kong again
For the second time, India faced Hong Kong in the Asia Cup. The Men in Blue were on the back of an important win against Pakistan. Hong Kong were on the back of three straight wins in the qualifiers.
The first innings saw India bat first, with skippers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma opening. However, Rohit was sent back in the fifth over, making way for Virat Kohli. Kohli seems to be returning to his natural flair as he scored the first fifty of the tournament. His performance was applauded by fans and pundits alike as “King Is Back” began trending on social media. However, the highlight of the innings will be when Suryakumar Yadav completed a 22-ball fifty and smashed a whopping 68* off just 26 balls.
With a target of 193, Hong Kong had a herculean task in their hands. They lost early wickets to dampen their hopes in this already one-sided fixture. However, a gutsy fight put up by Babar Hayat and Kinchit Shah saw India on the back foot as Hong Kong chased the mammoth target. Putting up a valiant effort, the Indian bowlers could not deter the underdogs beyond five wickets. They managed to subdue their batting threat as the Men in Blue won comfortably by 40 runs, surviving the turbulence in the middle overs.
Though they are out of the Asia Cup after losing to Pakistan, no one can deny the quality this Hong Kong Cricket outfit has in their ranks.
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