Hong Kong and the Netherlands will aim to collect crucial points when they go head to head in the fifth round of the four-day first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup, which begins on Friday, 10 February.
Hong Kong, which is placed fifth, will host the match at the Mission Road Ground, Mong Kok, against the Netherlands, which is placed third and leads it by 16 points. After four rounds, defending champion Ireland leads the field with 80 points, followed by Afghanistan (61 points).
Any side recording an outright victory in Mong Kok will move up the ladder. If Netherlands collects maximum points, then it will jump from 46 points to 66 points in second place, while Hong Kong will rise from 30 points to 50 points in third position.
This will be the second match Hong Kong will be hosting in Mong Kok. The venue’s debut first-class match against Scotland in January 2016 was abandoned without a ball being bowled. However, weather forecast during the upcoming four-day fixture is clear with temperature to range between early and mid-20s.
Hong Kong has played five 50-over matches at Mong Kong, winning three and losing one, while its match against Papua New Guinea (PNG) was washed out. In this tournament to date, Hong Kong has registered one win, which was against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by 276 runs, while it suffered 70 runs and 114 runs defeats against Ireland and Namibia, respectively.
The Netherlands, in contrast, has won two and lost two. Its victories came against the UAE and Scotland by four wickets and 44 runs, respectively, while it lost to Afghanistan by an innings and 36 runs and to PNG by five wickets.
Hong Kong has named uncapped 19-year-old off-spinner Shahid Wasif in its 14-player squad, while the Netherlands has travelled with 27-year-old middle-order batsman Tobias Visee and 19-year-old fast bowler Sikander Zulfiqar, who are yet to make their first-class debuts.
Leading performers in the tournament from either side include Nizakat Ali and Michael Rippon, who have scored 271 runs each but the Hong Kong lad has played one match less, Babar Hayat, who has scored 237 runs, Stephan Myburgh, who has scored 210 runs, and Tanwir Afzal, who has scored 207 runs.
Amongst the bowlers, Hong Kong’s Nadeem Ahmed and Tanwir Afzal have claimed 16 and 13 wickets, respectively, while the Netherlands’ most successful bowler to date has been Rippon with 13 wickets.
The four-day fixture will be followed by two ICC World Cricket League Championship matches, which will be played at the same venue on 16 and 18 February. After eight matches, the Netherlands shares top spot with PNG on 12 points, while Hong Kong is third – just one point behind.
Hong Kong - Babar Hayat, Aizaz Khan, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Chris Carter, Ehsan Nawaz, Anshuman Rath, Jamie Atkinson, Tanwir Afzal, Ehsan Khan, Mark Chapman, Shahid Wasif, Waqas Khan and Tanveer Ahmed
Netherlands – Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Barresi, Ben Cooper, Vivian Kingma, Ahsan Malik, Stephan Myburgh, Maxwell O’Dowd, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Timm van der Gugten, Roelof van der Merwe, Paul van Meekeren, Tobias Visee and Sikander Zulfiqar
Umpires - Buddhi Pradhan and Tabarak Dar
Match referee - Dev Govindjee