Tense time as Hong Kong face Papua New Guinea in crunch qualifier
Jamie Atkinson's men are just one step away from a monumental first appearance at a World Cup
"Can we dare to dream?" Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman Mike Walsh and all local fans are on tenterhooks as Jamie Atkinson leads Hong Kong out for their final game at the ICC World Cup qualifiers against Papua New Guinea in Lincoln, New Zealand, today.
Hong Kong are just one step away from a monumental first appearance at a World Cup. Walsh said he was living in hope that luck would be on their side - first, beating PNG convincingly and then either Scotland or United Arab Emirates losing.
"It has been a tremendous achievement and we will cross everything possible tomorrow in the hope that results, both ours and others, will go our way and enable us to rub shoulders with the very best at the next World Cup," Walsh said.
"If that does not happen then no one can take away from us what we have achieved thus far. We have been punching above our weight and we fully intend to stay there if at all possible.
"All credit must go to the players, coach and support personnel both down in New Zealand now and back here who have worked so hard for so long to make this a possibility," Walsh said.
While UAE and Scotland are in the box seat with six points each, Hong Kong (four points) still have a chance of claiming one of the two spots available for the main event in 2015.
To do this they have to beat PNG and boost their net run rate (+0.312) above that of UAE (+0.742) or Scotland (+0.612), while hoping one of these teams lose their last-round game. UAE meet Namibia while Scotland take on Kenya. Both Namibia and Kenya are out of the equation.
"All we can do is focus on PNG," Hong Kong coach Mark Wright said. "If we don't win our game, everything else is academic.
"We have to get into a position of strength and then try to dictate events. But there are no preconceived plans as to whether we will bat first or chase if we win the toss. We will have a look at the wicket and conditions first.
"Papua New Guinea also have a chance of qualifying, so it will be a tough game. We have had some interesting battles against them in the past."