x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Khurram Khan aims for Hong Kong’s middle

UAE captain says win over the group leaders on Thursday at the ICC World Cup Qualifier will peg on getting their top-order batsmen out, report Paul Radley.

Khurram Khan, centre, is confident his bowlers can cause trouble for Hong Kong’s rusty middle-order batsmen on Thursday. Chris Young / The National
Khurram Khan, centre, is confident his bowlers can cause trouble for Hong Kong’s rusty middle-order batsmen on Thursday. Chris Young / The National

Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, is confident that his side are capable of recording a potentially crucial win over Hong Kong, despite the irresistible form shown by their Asian rivals at the ICC World Cup Qualifier.

The two sides, who are regular combatants in continental competition, meet in Queenstown on Thursday in the final pool match of the competition.

After three resounding wins, Hong Kong are assured of a place in the next phase. The UAE will advance to the Super Sixes even with a loss, but with the points carrying over to the next stage, victory appears vital if they are to progress from there.

The finalists in the 10-team competition in New Zealand will earn a place at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The nature of Hong Kong’s three wins may surprise some, since they were probably the least-heralded of the five sides in pool A ahead of the competition.

However, the UAE are well aware of their merits. The respective sides retain much of the personnel who competed for the 2008 ACC Trophy final in Malaysia, when Hong Kong ended the UAE’s monopoly on that title.

The national team have had the better of the side from the Far East, but are wary of them, given that Hong Kong won their previous two matches in New Zealand by nine and 10 wickets.

Khurram believes that presents an opportunity for his bowlers, though, reasoning that the Hong Kong middle and lower order must be untested.

“Hong Kong are playing very well, but one good thing about it is, from the look of their scores, it is only their top order who have been getting in,” Khurram said.

“The top order have scored all the runs, so none of the other batsmen have had a chance to get in. That can be an advantage for us, to be honest.

“If we can get early wickets, that can make a difference.”

Jamie Atkinson, the Hong Kong captain, called for his side to maintain the run of success.

“Winning is a habit, and with three wins from three we couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Atkinson, the wicketkeeper who has played first-class cricket for Warwickshire.

“The team are really enjoying their cricket, confidence is high and we just need to keep our consistency up.”

Nepal finished a disappointing tournament winless on Tuesday when they suffered a fourth defeat, this time at the hands of Canada.

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE