Tough times loom for HK in big boys' league

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 1997, 12:00am

The territory will have to contend with the brilliant Bangladeshis, the determined Dutch and the luck of the Irish to advance to the semi-finals of the ICC Trophy.

As runners-up behind Scotland in Group D, Hong Kong now find themselves in the company of teams who are a notch above them. But skipper Pat Fordham is not all that worried. 'It really didn't matter which group we were in because in the end we will be playing against quality opposition,' said Fordham. In the other quarter-final group are ICC Trophy favourites Kenya, Canada, Scotland and Denmark.

Defending champions United Arab Emirates failed to qualify for the last eight. A much-transformed side owing to the stringent eligibility requirements, UAE - who played at the last World Cup - finished third behind Bangladesh and Denmark in Group B.

Hong Kong will meet Bangladesh first tomorrow, followed by Holland on Wednesday and Ireland on Friday. It will be a gruelling schedule against opponents on a level above the territory's weekend warriors. But now that they are right in the middle of it, Hong Kong are looking forward to the games.

Bangladesh will be a hard start. The sub-continent side have never played in the World Cup, just falling short of qualifying in 1982 and 1990, being beaten by Zimbabwe both times.

In 1994, in Kenya, they were disappointing and failed to make it into the finals, and lost the third-place play-off to Holland. Coached by former West Indian opening batsman Gordon Greenidge, the Bangladeshis are a transformed side this time round: not only in personnel - they have just six players from Kenya - but also in substance and approach. The Dutch have two fast bowlers of repute.

Old-timer Roland Lefebvre is still swinging the ball around, but this time he is joined by Asim Khan, who has been the pick of the quicks at this tournament. Hong Kong will go into the quarter-finals with the knowledge that they have pulled off the upset of the tournament so far, beating Bermuda in their first game. If the territory's players can last the distance, they are capable of giving all their opponents a hard time.