Hong Kong returned home yesterday from Kathmandu to the heartening news that top-order batsman Mark Chapman and all-rounder Tanvir Afzaal are available for the next leg of the ICC World Twenty20 campaign.
Left-handed batsman Chapman had to pull out of the squad for the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 due to cricket commitments for his college in Auckland, New Zealand where he is a boarder. But the teenager has said he would be available for the world qualifiers in March in the United Arab Emirates.
'Mark has confirmed that he will be available and that is good news as he will strengthen our batting considerably,' Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said. 'In addition, we also expect that Tanvir will become eligible to play for Hong Kong and he will boost our bowling department.'
Tanvir will soon become eligible under the ICC's four-year residency ruling to play for Hong Kong and the right-arm, fast-medium bowler will add bite to an attack which was one genuine bowler short during the ACC Twenty20 campaign last week.
The presence of Chapman and Tanvir will be welcome as Hong Kong take on the leading associate members in the 16-team world qualifiers with only two berths on offer for the ICC World Twenty20 torunament in Sri Lanka next September.
'We have achieved our goal in Nepal. Now we have a lot of hard work ahead of us in the next three months,' Burke said. 'If we hope to win a couple of games against the top professional sides, the guys will have to work very hard and raise their game even further.'
Chasing 126 runs for victory, Hong Kong slipped to an eight-run defeat to Afghanistan in the final on Sunday. Burke blamed the defeat on his batsmen 'panicking' and getting out to 'soft dismissals'.
Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and the two losing semi-finalists - Nepal and Oman - are through to the final qualifying tournament.