Hong Kong brimming with confidence against UAE
Queenstown is happy hunting ground for team's last pool game at ICC World Cup qualifiers
Hong Kong return to Queenstown, a happy hunting ground and where it all began so well for them, with their confidence sky-high as they take on the United Arab Emirates in the final pool game at the ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand on Thursday.
"Everyone is looking forward to the match. The guys are all upbeat and confident and we have fond memories of our last visit to Queenstown when we defeated Scotland, so everything is looking good," said player-coach Mark Wright on Wednesday.
Hong Kong's opening game in the 10-team tournament against Scotland ended on a winning note when they held on to pull off a famous 17-run victory over the Scots, one of the pre-tournament favourites to book one of two berths remaining for associate countries at the 2015 World Cup.
Put in to bat, Hong Kong scored 263 for seven with Irfan Ahmed top-scoring with 75. But the turning point was probably the quick-fire 22 off just eight deliveries from Aizaz Khan at the death, a cameo which transformed the total into a competitive one.
"We have gained momentum ever since that victory and it is important we maintain it going into the Super Sixes. The UAE will boast a strong challenge, but the players are looking forward to it," said Wright.
Hong Kong remain unbeaten at the top of pool A. A nine-wicket win over Canada was followed by a 10-wicket rout of Nepal allowing the Jamie Atkinson-led team to book their place in the Super Sixes.
UAE and Scotland are fancied to join Hong Kong in the next stage. But Canada have an outside chance of making it through, if they defeat the Scots convincingly in the final group game.
Namibia, Netherlands and Papua New Guinea are expected to progress from pool B, but Kenya also have a chance of sneaking through, if they beat the Netherlands in their final pool match.