Hong Kong celebrate run out of Zeeshan Maqsood

Hong Kong's Nizakat Khan confident his team can qualify for Australia 2022

Hong Kong celebrate run out of Zeeshan Maqsood

Hong Kong missed out on the 2021 edition after defeat in the 2019 Qualifiers, having previously appeared at the top table in 2014 and 2016.

But now Khan believes his side are better placed than ever to make it through and play against the very best in Australia later this year.

“Our team is looking very good,” said Khan. “We have more experience now in our team compared to our last World Cup qualifiers.

“We are much more balanced this time, and we have a good combination of our spinners and fast bowlers.”

Qualification represents a chance for Khan and his teammates to represent his country on the world stage and pit themselves against the world’s best cricketers. But Khan is also focused on what it could mean for the wider game back home.

“It would mean a lot, especially for our youngsters back in Hong Kong,” added Khan. “They always see us playing cricket, and especially if we play against the top teams, it’s something to boost them up. We’re all really looking forward to this.

“Cricket Hong Kong have been doing really good work for the junior pathway. The 13s, 15s, 17s, 19s and we have the domestic club game and the players are coming up from the system. We have a very good set up in Hong Kong.”

To make their dream a reality, however, Khan knows his side must navigate the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier B in Zimbabwe. Games against the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and Uganda await before a potential semi-final and final, with two qualification spots up for grabs in total.

Yet skipper Khan has the belief that his side can make it all the way if they keep their minds on their cricket and lean on their experience.

“We are just going to take it game by game,” said Khan. “Every game is important so we need to make sure that we win every single game and execute our plan. We cannot be relaxed in any game, we need to make sure we are up for game one.

“We are really looking forward to it because it’s a great opportunity and we have a great chance to qualify for the World Cup.

“We have a very experienced team now and we can use our experience in the games. We need to make sure we focus on our game, win the games, and try to qualify for the World Cup. We just can’t wait to go out against Uganda in the first game in Zimbabwe.”

There is a personal note, too, for Khan as he leads the side for the first time. The all-rounder has been representing his nation since 2008 and has been a mainstay of the side since starring in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers. But while Khan admits there will be some nerves before the first game, the 29-year-old believes the quality of his team will come to the fore.

“Of course, there will be some pressure but I need to make sure that I relax myself and I need to just focus on the game and focus on my planning,” added Khan.

“It’s a privilege leading the team. I’m very much looking forward to it. I would rank this team higher than before as we have very good experience and are a very balanced side. Our combination of bowlers, batters and fielders are very good. I would rank it really high and I’m very confident we’ll qualify for the World Cup.”

Hong Kong, ChinaMedia Release