Hong Kong cricketers face crunch series against Kenya with Sports Institute and World Cup qualification at stake
Captain Babar Hayat knows his side can top the ICC World Cricket League table if they beat the hosts in the two-match series
Hong Kong cricketers go into their two-match ICC World Cricket League series with Kenya knowing that the sport’s future at elite level is at stake, as well as offering a path to the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.
Captain Babar Hayat leads the team against the strong Kenyans with fourth-place Hong Kong in a position to top the eight-team WCL table if they can win the series. Equally important is to ensure that cricket remains in the Hong Kong Sports Institute elite programme.
“The World Cricket League is our main focus and finishing in the top two is really important not just for World Cup qualifiers but also with our place in the Hong Kong Sports Institute,” said Hayat. “Being in HKSI has made a big difference for us and keeping our place there will help us with the World Cup qualifiers in the next couple of years.”
The top teams at the end of the competition next year will advance to the 2018 ICC World Cup qualifiers in Bangladesh, from where they will vie to play in the World Cup finals in England and Wales in 2019.
Hong Kong have nine points after six games, with Papua New Guinea and Netherlands leading the way on 12 points from eight matches. Scotland are third on 11 points from eight games. The Kenya matches are on November 18 and 20 in Nairobi.
Hayat’s team are in a buoyant mood after beating table-toppers PNG 2-1 in a three-match friendly series in Hong Kong this month.
“We are in good touch. We played against PNG and we won that series and we have in-form players such as Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan,” said Hayat. “We’ve also been bowling so well, our spinners in particular. Nadeem and Anshy impressed me a lot in that last series – it gives our side good balance.
“The PNG series helped us prepare for these two games against Kenya, it’s helped our players make runs and get in form and help me as a captain and getting a feel for what kind of form players are in.
“It’s not easy, they have a good side. We played against them in 2014 and they have home conditions and home crowd advantage so it will be a good challenge for us. First time for all of us are playing in Kenya so it’s a new experience for us.
“Everyone knows that if we win these games we will be top and that will really help us a lot so we are really excited for these two games. They will come hard at us in their home conditions and will be desperate to win these game so it’s going to a tough battle for both teams.”