Cricket Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s one-day status – and HK$5.8m – at stake in ICC World Cup qualifier against Nepal

Victory would take Hong Kong to the Super Six stage while defeat will leave them battling with other teams to stay in the top league

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 8:27pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 11:03pm

Hong Kong take on Nepal on Monday in a crucial group B match that has implications beyond earning a place in the next phase of the ICC World Cup qualifiers – defeat could mean a battle to save their ICC one-day status with around HK$5.8 million in funding at stake.

Victory would take Hong Kong into the Super Six stage of the tournament and safeguard their place in the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) top division, while a loss will leave them in the bottom two of group B – which would mean playing off with group A teams to avoid dropping into the second division of the WCL for the next four-year cycle.

“All the boys realise the importance of the next match,” said team manager Jawaid Iqbal.

World governing body ICC provides a total of around HK$5.8 million for WCL top division teams over four years. Hong Kong finished in the top four of the WCL last year to advance to these qualifiers and need to stay in the elite division if they want to continue receiving funding.

The money helps Cricket Hong Kong in its development programmes as well as meeting the expenses of hosting matches and travelling to away fixtures.

Nepal are not only seeking their first win after three losses but to beat Hong Kong handsomely and finish above them on run rate.

Hong Kong beat Afghanistan on Thursday for their only win of the tournament so far after losing to Scotland in their opener on Tuesday and going down to hosts Zimbabwe on Saturday.

They return to the Bulawayo Athletic Club to face Nepal, who must be licking their lips at the prospect of a pitch that has been turning since the start of the tournament. In their ranks they boast teenager Sandeep Lamichhane, who recently earned a contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League and is regarded as one of the world’s rising spinners.

Hong Kong, however, are also not short of spinners with Nadeem Ahmed and Ehsan Nawaz thriving on the Bulawayo pitch against Scotland and the Afghans.

“We have Nadeem, we have Ehsan and also Nizakat [Khan] can bowl,” said Jawaid. “We are expecting the wicket to have a lot of spin in it. We have played before on it so we know what it’s like.”

Anshuman Rath has been outstanding with the bat for Hong Kong and needs a handful of his teammates to stay longer at the crease. Hong Kong have scored the least runs in the group, with 490, and it could play a major factor in deciding who ends up at the bottom of the table.

Hong Kong have beaten Nepal in their past two meetings, scoring an 83-run victory in the World Cricket League in November to win the two match series with the second one-dayer being washed out. They also triumphed by 10 wickets at the 2014 ICC World Cup qualifiers.

In another group B match, Zimbabwe and Scotland will pit their unbeaten records against each other with both teams having qualified for the Super Six.

In group A, West Indies are through to the next round and play Netherlands in their final match.