18 April 2023
BY IRA GORAWARA
COLOMBO, SL - The Hong Kong men have begun their campaign for the final berth in the 2023 Asia Cup.
Between the sights of Hong Kong and this year’s Asia Cup lies the ACC Premier Cup: the final stage of qualification and the ultimate opportunity to show themselves apt to play besides the likes of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
In preparation to take stage in Kathmandu, the Hong Kong squad readied themselves in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a series of fixtures against local clubs and five days of training under the blistering rays of Colombo’s sun.
Hong Kong saw Moors Cricket Club in their first of two 50-over matchups. Hong Kong’s captain Nizakat Khan gave his squad an initial advantage after calling the better side of the coin and taking control of the toss, forcing his opponents to post a competitive figure with the stick.
Hong Kong’s youngsters managed to produce the side’s first two wickets, positioning their opponents at just ten runs for the loss of both openers by the third over. First forced back to the dugout was Abdul Masith, taking an LBW decision to right-arm medium-fast bowler Nasrulla Rana. Within six balls, Masith’s opening partner saw his dismissal to right-arm fast bowler Ayush Shukla who sent him away for three runs.
When the opening duo was back in the pavilion with four runs in their partnership, Hong Kong recognized its control of the innings.
Middle-order batsman Janishka Perera and Risira Weerasuirya flipped the game's trajectory, posting a sound 64-run partnership to propel their squad to 74 runs for the loss of three wickets before Hong Kong’s left-arm off-spin Yasim Murtaza cut Perera’s innings at 47.
The pocket of hope that emerged from the duo’s partnership was quickly squashed after right-arm off-spin bowler Ehsan Khan showed Weerasuirya his way back to the dugout and a subsequent fall of all players on the squad within a whisker of one another.
Hong Kong limited their opponents to just 140 runs in 33.1 overs, setting themselves up with a run chase that required under three runs an over.
The total was far under par for Hong Kong’s destructive opening duo, featuring right-hand batsman “Captain Khan” and left-hand batsman Anshuman Rath, who came off a “Player of the Tournament” performance at Hong Kong’s most recent 50-over quadrangular series.
The two tallied a 57-run partnership within the first ten overs before a caught-behind ruling saw out Rath. Before Babar Hayat could commence his usual damage, he too was sent out with a caught-behind verdict, sending in the youngster, right-arm bat Adit Gorawara.
Hong Kong’s captain and Gorawara found their rhythm on the pitch. With years of training side-by-side and opening batting lineups in both club and international cricket, the duo showed out with a 74-run partnership that completed Hong Kong’s run chase at 146/4 with 23 overs to spare.
A four-day break in play gave the Hong Kong men and head coach Simon Willis a chance to head back into the field to make adjustments and amendments before the final game of the pretour against Ragama Cricket Club.
With the toss flipping in Hong Kong’s favor again, Captain Khan made a bat-first decision to strike up an aggressive total for his squad.
Khan summed a 79-run total, followed by Gorawara, who registered 27. The two managed yet another dynamic partnership, this time falling at 58 runs and pushing the team past the 100-run mark to position themselves at a solid 120 runs when Gorawara’s wicket, the third of the innings, fell.
Following the captain’s dismissal soon after, all Hong Kong players saw their chance on the pitch but couldn't deliver as they'd like. Ultimately, the Hong Kong men had their innings cut two overs short when all wickets fell for a 210-run total.
Ragama didn’t waste time in their chase, posting 41 runs in the initial five overs of the game. Despite Hong Kong’s subsequent efforts in steadying out the innings, their subpar total caused the game to fall
from their hands as Ragama managed to complete the chase. However, Hong Kong kept it close, forcing Ragama to take their chase to the final five overs and managing eight dismissals in the innings.
Janith Liyanage’s 44-run total was the propellor in his side’s chase, followed by Dellon Peiris, who managed a crucial 38 runs for his team. With Liyanage having made his international debut for Sri Lanka
and Peiris his List A debut, Hong Kong was given invaluable exposure to high-level cricket.
With the loss of the second game, the Hong Kong men took a defeat and a victory in their pretour.
Soon after their touchdown in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Hong Kong men take the field against Singapore on April 18, 9:00 a.m. NPT at Mulpani Cricket Stadium for their first game of the ACC Premier Cup.