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How Hong Kong Qualified for the Asia Cup 2022

Hong Kong have upset the UAE and qualified as the sixth team in the Asia Cup 2022. We look at their path through the tournament.

Posted Date: Aug 28, 2022

Posted By: Bren Gray

How Hong Kong Qualified for the Asia Cup 2022
How Hong Kong Qualified for the Asia Cup 2022

The sixth team for this year’s Asia Cup has been found, and to the surprise of many, it’s Hong Kong.

While many were expecting the host nation and World No.13 ranked side, the United Arab Emirates, to qualify, that storyline was not to be. Instead, joining India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup 2022, it is in fact Hong Kong who managed to navigate their way through this week’s qualifying to win a spot in the main tournament.

Here’s a look at how the world’s 23rd best T20I team wound up in a pool alongside India and Pakistan.

The History of Cricket in Hong Kong

Cricket has a long and rich history in Hong Kong, with the first international match being played by the men’s team in 1866.

The nation has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) since 1969, though didn’t play its first One Day International until 2004. Hong Kong went on to gain T20 International status with the ICC in 2013, off the back of qualifying for the T20 World Cup 2014, and has played in every ICC qualifying tournament, except in 1979 and 2005.

Significant results for the nation include reaching the final of the ACC Trophy in 2000, where they lost to the UAE. They repeated this feat in 2006, and also reached the final of the World Cricket League in 2008, going one better three years later to win the tournament.

In 2014, Hong Kong qualified for the T20 World Cup 2014, where they achieved their biggest T20 win by defeating hosts Bangladesh by two wickets. Recently, Afghanistan were also added to Hong Kong’s list of major scalps, when they beat their first full member nation in an ODI in 2018.

Should Hong Kong win one of their group matches in this year’s Asia Cup, it would represent the greatest achievement in the nation’s cricketing history.

Hong Kong’s Path Through Qualifying

As the second ranked team in the Asia Cup qualifying tournament, Hong Kong were not expected to be the side advancing this week.

The UAE were clear favorites heading into qualifying, with a world ranking of 12, ranked of teams such as Scotland and Ireland who have recent had series against full members. However, when the UAE dropped their opening match to Kuwait, losing by one wicket with one ball remaining, the door was opened for Hong Kong to overtake the qualifying heavyweights.

Hong Kong vs. Singapore

Playing in the first match of the qualifying tournament, Hong Kong found themselves up against 26th ranked Singapore.

Batting first, Hong Kong put 148 runs on the board, losing nine wickets along the way. Yasim Murtaza and Kinchit Shah combined for a 65 run third wicket partnership to build the platform, while 20 off 15 and 27 off 14 by Zeeshan Ali and Haroon Arshad respectively saw Hong Kong reach a defendable total.

Defend is what they did, restricting Singapore to 140/7 off their 20 overs, winning by eight runs. Ehsan Khan led the bowling figures with 20/3.

Hong Kong vs. Kuwait

Next up, Hong Kong faced a Kuwait side coming off an upset victory over the UAE.

Kuwait batted first and posted 152 for Hong Kong to win. The men in red then chased the total down with ease, scoring 153/2 off 17.4 and cruising to an eight wicket win over Kuwait.

Yasim Murtaza starred again with a rapid fire 46 off 33 to get Hong Kong off to a strong start, while Nizakat Khan and Babar Hayat both notched half centuries to see their team home.

Hong Kong vs. the UAE

It all went down to the wire in the sixth and final game of the Asia Cup 2022 qualifiers.

As Hong Kong and the UAE ran onto the field, Singapore was the only team who couldn’t qualify—Kuwait, Hong Kong and the UAE were all still alive, depending on the result of this game.

Fast forward three and a half hours however, and it was Hong Kong who won out, with another dominant eight wicket performance. While the UAE battled their way to 147 runs off 19.3 overs batting first, Hong Kong again were composed in their chase, hauling in the target with an over and the bulk of their batsmen still in the shed.

Yasmin Murtaza made it 130 runs for the week, as he raced to 58 off 43, supported by Khan’s run-a-ball 39 and Hayat’s 38 off 26. Ehsan Khan again impressed with the ball, taking 24/4.

Hong Kong and the Asia Cup

This week marks the fourth time Hong Kong have qualified for the Asia Cup.

Previously, they have reached the tournament three times in its ODI format, qualifying off the back of the ACC Trophy in 2004 and 2008. Most recently, they won the Asia Cup Qualifier in 2018, making it through to the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup as well.

Hong Kong hold a 0-6 record so far in Asia Cup performances, having never won or made it beyond the group stage. Their best result was a 26 run loss to India in 2018, where they posted 259/8 in reply to India’s 285/7. The previous meeting between the two sides had been a 256 run win to India.

The Hong Kong national team have never played in the Asia Cup in its T20 format.

What Are Hong Kong’s Chances in the Asia Cup 2022?

Realistically, Hong Kong do not have a good chance of success in the Asia Cup 2022.

While they have previously beaten Bangladesh and Afghanistan in white ball cricket, Hong Kong have been drawn in a pool alongside India and Pakistan. This is the second time Hong Kong have been in India’s pool, and the third time in Pakistan’s pool. All of these previous occasions have ended poorly, with the majority being heavy defeats.

India and Pakistan are the two favourites to win the Asia Cup 2022, and it seems unlikely that either of them will present an opportunity to for Hong Kong to get their inaugural Asia Cup victory.

Betting odds for the Asia Cup have Hong Kong at 101.00 or +10,000, giving them 1% chance of success. India and Pakistan, on the other hand, have odds of 1.57 or -175 and 4.33 or +333 respectively.

Chances are, qualifying for the Asia Cup will be Hong Kong’s highlight of the month, and everything else from here will be a learning experience.