Hong Kong targets top four finish at Twenty20 with sights on World Cup qualifier
Hong Kong aim to finish in the top four at the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup in Nepal next month to remain in contention for a berth at the 2015 World Cup qualifying competition later this year.
Jamie Atkinson will lead a 14-strong squad for the 10-team Asian qualifiers in Kathmandu from March 26 to April 3 where two teams will join Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates at the world qualifiers in Dubai in November.
"Presuming that UAE [who as hosts gain automatic entry] and Afghanistan [included because they are a one-day international side] top their group, our target will be to make it through to the semi-finals to qualify for Dubai," said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke.
"We are in a separate preliminary round group to UAE and Afghanistan and as such an easier one. We need to finish in the top two of our group to ensure we will be in with a chance of qualifying for the World Cup."
Hong Kong are drawn with Nepal, Malaysia, Maldives and Singapore. Nepal are likely to provide the stiffest competition in the group stage.
All-rounder Munir Dar is the only big name missing from the squad after he made himself unavailable for selection. If successful, the squad will be strengthened by November with the availability of Mark Chapman and Haseeb Amjad.
"Mark is still undergoing rehabilitation from knee surgery and we didn't want to risk him for this tournament, while Haseeb only becomes eligible under the four-year rule this summer. They will both strengthen the side and it is important that we qualify for Dubai so that we can use them," Burke said.
Atkinson, who led the side last season, will have Waqas Barkat as his deputy.
The rest of the squad comprise Tanwir Afzal, Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Babar Hayat, Mudassar Hussain, Aizaz Khan, Nizakat Khan, Courtney Kruger, Anshuman Rath, Karan Shah, Daljeet Singh and Manjinder Singh.
"Once again it will be a very young side, one which is capable of accomplishing the goal of making it through to the final qualifiers in Dubai," Burke said.