Pakistan vs Pakistan? Wrong! We are Hong Kong, says Nizakat Khan ahead of their opening Asia Cup one-day clash
Many of the Hong Kong squad once harboured dreams of playing for Pakistan but now their only thoughts are to beat them
Hong Kong batsman Nizakat Khan wanted to play for Pakistan as a youngster. Now he wants to beat them and he has a chance to do just that on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Pakistan-born Nizakat is one of about a dozen Hong Kong cricketers who can trace their origin to the country. Although some Pakistani social media users have dismissed the clash as Pakistan A v Pakistan B, there will be no sympathy for the motherland from the Hong Kong players when they face the test nation in their opening pool A match in Dubai.
“Of course, growing up I wanted to play for Pakistan,” said Nizakat. “But then I moved back to Hong Kong and started playing cricket at school level. I represented Hong Kong at junior level and then national level and now we are here [in Dubai].
“My dream was to represent a country and now I am representing Hong Kong and Hong Kong is my first country now and I want to do my best at this level.
— Babar Hayat (@_BabarHayat) August 28, 2018
“It’s going to feel amazing. It was my dream to play against Pakistan and we have worked very hard to take the spot in the Asia Cup.”
Hong Kong earned their place in the Asia Cup by winning the qualifying tournament last week, beating United Arab Emirates in a thrilling, rain-affected final in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
They will also face India in pool A on Tuesday and the importance of both matches has been strengthened by governing body ICC giving the games full one-day status. Therefore, all team scores and personal performances will be entered in the official one-day international record books.
Group B features Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The top two teams from each group advance to the Super Four stage.
Hong Kong will face a tough task against the world-class Pakistanis, with their captain Safraz Ahmed saying this week that he wanted to score more than 300 runs if they bat first.
Among the players who were born in Pakistan are former captain Babar Hayat and Ehsan Nawaz (both from Attock), Nadeem Ahmed and Tanwir Afzal, while the likes of Aizaz Khan and Haroon Arshad were born in Hong Kong.
Although his thoughts were focused mostly on the game against arch-rivals India, he refused to dismiss teams such as Hong Kong and Afghanistan.
“In the UAE, due to hot weather and humidity, it is hard to bat in the night under floodlights and so every team will be keen to bat first,” he told Pakistani media. “I want my batsmen to score 300-plus while batting first as our bowling attack is really good and quite capable of defending it.
“First priority is to get early momentum in the Asia Cup. Indeed, the match against India is important and if both the teams play the final then it will be a great spectacle.
“I looked at the list of the players of all the teams and feel that every team is competitive. Hong Kong has qualified after winning the final of the qualifying round, while Afghanistan is also carrying a good number of talented players. So we have to take every contest seriously if we want to win the cup.”