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Cricket Hong Kong

How Blitz can boost Hong Kong in their bid to qualify for the ICC World Cup

Head coach Simon Cook is hoping the players continue their T20 form on their 50-over tour of southern Africa, culminating in the Zimbabwe qualifiers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 2:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 11:02pm

Head coach Simon Cook has called upon his players to take their Blitz form to southern Africa as Hong Kong face one of their toughest and most important assignments – attempt to qualify for the 2019 ICC World Cup.

Cook and a 15-strong playing squad left Hong Kong on Tuesday for South Africa, where they will play several friendly matches before the 2019 ICC World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe, starting on March 6.

Players such as Babar Hayat, Nizakat Khan, Anshuman Rath and reserves Haroon Arshad, Kyle Christie, Kinchit Shah and Waqas Khan, among others, were able to complete alongside world-class stars such as Kumar Sangakkara and Darren Sammy at last week’s Hong Kong T20 Blitz.

Nizakat was also man of the match in the final with his 93 runs helping Hung Hom JD Jaguars to victory over Galaxy Gladiators Lantau.

“The Blitz was an amazing success story,” said Cook. “More domestic players contributed to winning more games and there was less reliance on overseas players. The emergence of Haroon and Kyle Christie was evident in the spells that they bowled throughout the tournament.

“And the usual players still performed well, such as Babar and Nizakat Khan in particular. Every player in the squad knows that if they take their domestic form into this tournament we will stand a good chance of progressing,” he said.

Hong Kong face Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Scotland and a World Cricket League division two team in group B of the World Cup qualifiers. Before that, they will be based in Pretoria, South Africa and play in a quadrangular 50-overs tournament against Scotland, the Netherlands and Ireland.

The tournament starts on Wednesday and Hong Kong’s first match, against Scotland, is on Friday.

“There is a real feel-good factor in the squad, with the majority of the squad having played more cricket during the past eight months and they have in the previous 24 months,” said Cook.

“We have some new faces in the squad which is really exciting and it’s starting to show that the depth of domestic talent is growing. This was proved by the amount of players contributing in the recent T20 Blitz.

“The qualifiers will be arguably our toughest challenge we have come up against with a lot riding on not only qualification but final finishing position.”

Zimbabwe and Afghanistan enjoy test status, with the Afghans taking the world by storm in limited-overs cricket, while Scotland are among the leading associate teams.

Hong Kong gained entry into the qualifiers by finishing in the top four of the recent ICC World Cricket League Championship.