For cricket’s minnows around the world, the opportunities to play against top sides in the world is virtually zero. The only action they get is against fellow Associates. But when they do, they do try and make it count.
Hong Kong, a country more known for its football, had that opportunity back in 2018 when they qualified for the Asia Cup in Dubai. For the big teams, it is another routine day at the park, but for teams like Hong Kong, it is a golden chance to rub shoulders with the best and learn from them.
And that’s what Hong Kong did last time out. They got to play two of the heavyweights in world cricket — India and Pakistan. And while, their first outing didn’t go as expected, surrendering meekly to Pakistan, Hong Kong almost did the unthinkable against India.
They ran India close at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium with then captain Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan conjuring a 174-run stand in a chase of 286. They dreamt and the cricketing world was almost left in shock. But it was not to be as India pulled up their socks and avoided defeat.
Few years on, Hong Kong get another chance to punch above their weight when they go up against India and then Pakistan. Again, Hong Kong came through the hard way, through a qualifying tournament in Oman to earn their right to face these two teams.
A majority of players from that team in 2018 are in this team with Nizakat Khan captaining the side now.
"Winning and losing is a part of the game. We want to play good cricket and it is important. It is a massive opportunity to play against India and Pakistan,”Nizakat Khan said at the ICC Academy as Hong Kong trained on Monday.
And Nizakat was confident that they will get more opportunities to play big teams in the future.
“We have a young squad and it is a great opportunity for us. We look forward to learning and moving forward. I am sure we will play more Test nations," he said.
And Nizakat pointed out that the reason behind the huge gap between the big teams and the minnows is because of the lack of matches they get to play against such teams.
"Gap (between bigger and smaller teams) is opportunities. This is our chance to show them we can compete," he felt.
Meanwhile, coach Trent Johnson too echoed his captain and added this is a great opportunity for Hong Kong to play against India and Pakistan again.
"It is amazing what they (Hong Kong) have achieved so far. It is about playing good cricket and enjoying yourself. Hong Kong deserves to be at this stage," said Johnson.
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