For Hong Kong, there’s been little time to rest since they booked their berth in the Asia Cup. A week ago, they stunned favourites UAE by two-wickets in Malaysia to claim the last remaining berth and set up two glamourous ties with heavyweights India and Pakistan.
Having lost their One Day International (ODI) status earlier this year, the ICC confirmed all their games in the Emirates will be ODIs – just like in 2004 and 2008 editions when they last qualified.
Here, we take a closer look at Hong Kong ahead of their participation in Dubai.
COACH – SIMON COOK
Having worked his way up from a bowling coach, the former Middlesex and Kent fast-bowler has been at the helm for three years. Lost ODI status during that time but qualification to the Asia Cup shows he possesses the knowledge to make HK competitive.
CAPTAIN – ANSHY RATH
The fact that he is just 20 and is captain tells you how highly rated he is. With more than 35 international caps, he has scored big runs against ODI nations UAE (102), Nepal (52) and Zimbabwe (85) this year alone.
STAR MAN– BABAR HAYAT
Since debuting in 2014, Babar Hayat is one of the most experienced members in the squad. The ex-captain’s record of eight fifties in 20 ODIs is a prime example that he can score crucial runs on his day.
ONE TO WATCH – AIZAZ KHAN
The 25-year-old medium-pacer arrives in Dubai in fantastic form, picking up five wickets in the Qualifier final to rattle the UAE batsmen. His ODI figures are even more impressive considering he has 15 wickets in 17 appearances.
STRENGTHS – BOWLERS
Sterner tests await in Dubai but in four out of the six games in the Qualifier, Hong Kong managed to bowl out the opposition which should give the minnows some confidence.
WEAKNESSES – LACK OF EXPERIENCE AT TOP LEVEL
Cook can call on a talented squad but opportunities of playing against the elite has been very limited for the majority of the squad.
PREDICTION – GROUP STAGE EXIT
Drawn alongside heavyweights India and Pakistan, Hong Kong have their work cut out of making the Super Four stage.
FULL SQUAD: Anshuman Rath(c), Aizaz Khan, Babar Hayat, Cameron McAulsan, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Arshad Mohammad, Kinchit Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Raag Kapur, Scott McKechnie, Tanveer Ahmed, Tanwir Afzal, Waqas Khan, Aftab Hussain
GROUP STAGE – MATCH ONE
September 16: Hong Kong v Pakistan, Dubai, 15:30
September 18: Hong Kong v India, Dubai, 15:30
As five-time champions, Sri Lanka know exactly what is required to win the Asia Cup. Their last triumph came in 2014 when the likes of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were playing but with those two stars retired, Sri Lanka haven’t been the same force as they once were.
Angelo Mathews, captain for this week’s event, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Malinga are the sole survivors from the event and currently make up part of a Sri Lankan team that are still going through a transition period.
Ahead of the Asia Cup in the UAE, we look more closely at the former champions and analyse their chances in the Emirates.
COACH– CHANDIKA HATHURUSINGHA
In charge of Sri Lanka for less than a year, things hasn’t gone exactly to plan for the former Bangladesh coach. Despite winning the tri-series in Bangladesh, the 3-2 ODI series defeat to South Africa shows how big of a task lies ahead of him.
CAPTAIN – ANGELO MATHEWS
It’s vital that the 31-year-old uses all his experience and lead from the front. The all-rounder has been consistent over the years and fared strongly with the bat in the recent South Africa series while more often than not, has taken his team home when under pressure. More of the same will be needed in the UAE.
STAR MAN – AKILA DANANJAYA
Will miss the first two games with his wife expected to give birth but when he arrives, the off-spinner has plenty up his sleeve to make an instant impact with the ball – just like how he did against South Africa.
ONE TO WATCH: LASITH MALINGA
Recalled for first time since September 2017, all eyes will be on how the 35-year-old pacer fares. There’s no doubting his qualities but will have a point to prove that he still has what it takes to play at the top level.
STRENGTHS – BOWLING TALENT
The Islanders do not have any star batsmen in their ranks but have individuals who can do the damage with the ball. That includes Malinga whose record itself put him into that bracket.
WEAKNESSES – SCORING THE RUNS
If run-scoring wasn’t hard enough already, opener Dhanushka Gunathilaka became the latest casualty to be ruled out, joining Dinesh Chandimal on the injured list. A lot of responsibility will fall on the rest of the batsmen to deliver when it matters.
PREDICTION: SUPER FOUR STAGE
Sri Lanka are still going through a transition period but although they are not as prolific as they once were, have the quality to advance to the Super Four. Anything more will be a bonus.
FULL SQUAD: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Lasith Malinga
Saturday, September 15: Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 15:30, Dubai
Monday, September 17: Sri Lanka v Afghanistan, 15:30, Abu Dhabi
Sri Lanka have been dealt a blow with opening batman Danushka Gunathilaka ruled out of the Asia Cup due to a back injury.
The 27-year-old suffered the lower-back injury during practice at the ICC Academy in Dubai and will now fly home to receive treatment. The Sri Lankan Cricket Board have now called up left-handed batsman Shehan Jayasuriya into the squad.
On Monday, Sri Lanka’s Test captain Dinesh Chandimal withdrew from the squad after injuring his finger during a domestic T20 match.
Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Lasith Malinga.