HK handed ICC dream draw
The luck of the draw has favoured Hong Kong at the ICC Trophy tournament in Malaysia next year.
Hong Kong's hopes of entering the knockout round of the 'mini' World Cup being staged from March 30-April 14 were boosted with the news that the territory have avoided being drawn with the associate member heavyweights.
Kenya, Holland and the United Arab Emirates - who all qualified for this year's World Cup on the sub-continent - are in different groups. As are the other traditionally powerful associate member, Bangladesh.
The provisional draw which was released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) sees Hong Kong in Group D with Bermuda, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Argentina.
'We must have a reasonable chance of getting through to the quarter-final round. After that anything can happen.
We could sneak up the rails,' said Russ Mawhinney, the Hong Kong Cricket Association technical director and coach of the national team.
Scotland and Bermuda have been seeded above Hong Kong in the preliminary round which is played on a round robin format. Although seeded third, the territory have a realistic chance of repeating their heroics at the last ICC Trophy in Kenya in 1994, when they shocked everyone to enter the quarter-finals.
The winners and runners-up of each group qualify for the quarter-finals which will be conducted on a knockout basis.
Three associate member teams will once again qualify for the 1998 World Cup to be held in England.
The territory will have to stick to new ICC eligibility regulations. A country can take the field with only four players qualifying through residency (five years), while the other seven players will have to be citizens or be born in the country they wish to represent.
ICC TROPHY DRAW Group A: Kenya, United States, Ireland, Gibraltar, Singapore, Israel.
Group B: Bangladesh, UAE, Malaysia, Denmark, West Africa, Italy.
Group C: Holland, Canada, Namibia, Fiji, East Africa.
Group D: Bermuda, Scotland, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Argentina.