Teenage keeper replaces Haider for HK
It is not often that you replace an injured fast bowler with a wicketkeeper, but Hong Kong feel they have enough bowling cover and have called up teenager Waqas Barkat for the ICC World Cricket League Division Four tournament in Tanzania.
Barkat replaces spearhead bowler Afzaal Haider in the 14-strong squad that leaves tonight for Dar-es-Salaam for the six-nation tournament which begins on October 4.
The team are arriving early to get a feel for conditions, and also to see how Barkat will fit in - as understudy to Nasir Hameed or in the prime role.
'We didn't go for another bowler as we felt we had enough depth and options in seam bowling,' said Hong Kong captain Tabarak Dar. 'We decided it would be better to have a second wicketkeeper.'
Haider broke down last week at the tail end of a 10-day training trip to Sri Lanka. Officials, who experimented with youngster Shakeel Haq in the last match, felt the left-armer would be up to the task in Tanzania.
'Shakeel did well and could partner our main strike bowler Irfan Ahmed. I have also started bowling again and if needed could chip in and we also have Roy Lamsam, so there is enough cover,' Dar said.
With bowling strength mainly reliant on spin - left-armers Nadeem Ahmed, Najeeb Amar and Munir Dar along with right-arm off-spinner Ilyas Gull - the aim will be to keep the scoring down.
Hong Kong will meet Afghanistan, Italy, Jersey, Fiji and hosts Tanzania in a round-robin competition with the top two teams qualifying for Division Three in Argentina next January, and moving a step closer to the 2011 World Cup.
'We are quite confident. We have had a good couple of months, winning the ACC Trophy and having a good work-out in Sri Lanka. I think we are looking good,' Dar added.
The squad is: Tabarak Dar (captain), Najeeb Amar (vice-captain), Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Munir Dar, Hussain Butt, Zain Abbas, Ilyas Gull, Skhawat Ali, Roy Lamsam, Waqas Barkat, Nasir Hameed, Nizakat Khan, Shakeel Haq.