ACC news March 29, 2010

Hong Kong and Malaysia prepare for ACC Trophy

Tony Munro

Tony Munro

Malaysia’s coach, Rajiv Seth says his team is fortunate to be pooled with Asian Twenty20 Cup champion Afghanistan and 2008 ACC Trophy runner-up United Arab Emirates in Group B as a positive for the tournament which starts this Wednesday in Kuwait. "We are lucky to be pitched against the best because every match will be a final for our boys and that should bring the best out of them,” Seth said. “I feel our boys have it in them to surprise bigwigs like Afghanistan, UAE & Bahrain though we respect our opponents’ credentials."

Seth is pleased with his team’s "rich blend of youth and experience." The veterans in the side are allrounder and former captain, Suresh Navaratnam, who has played several seasons of grade cricket in Melbourne. He has represented Malaysia for over 10 years as has punishing left-hander opener, Rakesh Madhavan. "Generally, most of the side has been around for more than two to three years - Noorwira Rahim is the youngest of the lot and is a left-arm spin bowler who can bat reasonably well,” Seth said.

Malaysia has prepared for the tournament at the ACC High Performance program for the past eight weeks, concentrating on a combination of centre-wicket sessions and game-sense methods. Also joining Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan in Group B is Bhutan.

Malaysia squad: Suhan Kumar (capt), Ahmad Faiz, Faris Almas, Rakesh Madhavan, Damith Warusavithana, Suresh Navaratnam, Anwar Arudin, Eszrafiq Azis, Shukri Rahim, Nik Arifin, Shafiq Sharif, Hassan Ghulam, Noorwira Rahim, Shahrulnizam Yusof

Malaysia's matches: April 1 v Bahrain, April 3 v Afghanistan, April 4 v Bhutan, April 5 v UAE Meanwhile, there are seven survivors from Hong Kong's 2008 ACC Trophy winning squad to defend its title starting this Wednesday, against Nepal.

Among those are left-hander Najeeb Amar, who was Man of the Match with a century in the final, two years ago against United Arab Emirates, and young allrounder, Irfan Ahmed, who recently earned the match award against Afghanistan in the Under-19 World Cup.

Hong Kong coach, Tabarak Dar, who has assumed a non-playing role after handing the captaincy over to Amar, said Ahmed will be a key player in this tournament. "A lethal weapon he is, bowling at 140-150ks at present and similarly scoring runs. He is growing fast and getting mature."

Dar said the squad had the strike-power to get the results, and dismissed the significance of its 10th place at the ACC Twenty20 Cup last November.

"We have 14 match-winners you need two or three to strike in one match to win matches. The squad resembles the one finished 10th at the ACC Twenty20, but they have a different coach this time and a different format. We are the current ACC defending champions and we will try our best to defend our title."

Hong Kong is in Group A along with Nepal, Kuwait, Singapore and Oman.

Hong Kong: Najeeb Amar (capt), Roy Lamsam, Zain Abbas, Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Waqas Barkat, Hussain Butt, Ilyas Gul, Aizaz Khan, Asif Khan, Nizakat Khan, Vikash Vaswani, Nasir Hameed, Jawaid Iqbal

Hong Kong's matches: March 31 v Nepal, April 2 v Kuwait, April 4 v Singapore, April 6 v Oman.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo