Cricket Hong Kong

‘It’s messed up our batting line-up’ – Hong Kong lose Ahsan Abbasi ahead of ICC World Cup qualifier against Scotland

Middle-order batsman returns home after suffering a knee injury during a warm-up game in Zimbabwe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 March, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 March, 2018, 10:54pm

A knee injury to key batsman Ahsan Abbasi has thrown Hong Kong’s selection process into disarray as they prepare to take on Scotland in their first match of the ICC World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old had forced his way into the senior cricket squad after some outstanding domestic displays but his dream of playing on the world stage vanished after twisting his knee during a warm-up game in Harare.

Abbasi had settled smoothly into a middle-order role during the lead-up matches in South Africa and Zimbabwe but was forced to return to Hong Kong after a scan showed a meniscus tear. He is expected to be out for four to six weeks.

He is replaced in the squad by experienced Hong Kong international Kinchit Shah.

“Our preparations have been good but Ahsan’s injury has really thrown our selection up in the air,” said head coach Simon Cook on Monday ahead the match at the Bulawayo Athletic Club. “When we went through our prep talk we were really quite focused on which players would play in certain areas.

“Selection is now really difficult because it’s not only about picking the best players but a team that is slightly different in terms of formation and where people are batting.

“It’s not ideal but the players are going to have to adapt with what’s put in front of them,” added Cook, who was to hold a selection meeting with the squad on Monday night.

Hong Kong are one of 10 teams in the qualifiers battling for two places in next year’s 50-over ICC World Cup finals.

They are in group B with Scotland, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Nepal with the top three teams from each of the two groups, after a round-robin. advancing to the Super Six phase.

From there, two teams qualify for the finals after playing each other once. Scotland launched their bid with an impressive victory over Afghanistan in their first match and Cook knows that none of their four games will be easy.

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“Once you get to this stage of the World Cup, at no time will you have an easy game,” said Cook. “Every single opponent is a potential Super Six team.

“We’ve really got to step up and play our best in every single game. If we play our best cricket, we should get the results to reach the Super Six.

“We are as best prepared as we can be and now it’s just a case of each player performing their role to the best of their ability. We know that we have beaten every side in our group before so no team will hold any fears for us.”

Hong Kong have been in Africa since the middle of February. They have so far won a game against an elite academy team while losing to Netherlands and then Ireland in a rain-reduced match.

Cook said that among the players who have shown good form, skipper Babar Hayat and vice-captain Anshuman Rath have been impressive with the bat, along with Abbasi, while Ehsan Nawaz has shone with the ball.

Scotland on Sunday beat new test nation Afghanistan by seven wickets while Zimbabwe scored a 116-run victory over Nepal.

Group A comprises West Indies, Ireland, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and United Arab Emirates.