Asia Cup minnows plan to upset biggies

Hong Kong and UAE say they are backing themselves to upset the big sides in the Asia Cup, which begins on Tuesday.

updated: June 26, 2008 16:08 IST
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Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates sides are being looked at as the whipping boys of the Asia Cup but they have other ideas in mind as they prepare to take on their continental big brothers from Tuesday.

United Arab Emirates captain Saqib Ali said his side would look to upset Bangladesh in their opening match on Tuesday at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.

"We know Bangladesh are a very good side and on a good day can beat anyone. But I still back ourselves because if we do our basics right we have enough experienced players to do well and we expect to put up a very good fight," Ali said at a press conference in Lahore.

In the other Asia Cup match on Tuesday, Pakistan take on Hong Kong at National stadium here.

"Bangladesh have improved tremendously in the last five years and they have a lot of youngsters. But I am really excited about the challenge that lies ahead of me because we have a fantastic group of players who are very committed and passionate about representing UAE," Ali said.

"I don't think you can want anything else," he added. About expectations from his side in the Asia Cup, Ali stated his team had some experienced players with a couple of them having played in Pakistan for a number of years.

"But I don't think it is fair to talk about expectations from us at this stage. We need more exposure and I don't think there is a better occasion then the Asia Cup," he said.

Ali pointed out that Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all had strong culture and legacy of cricket, which was lacking in UAE.

"UAE is still a very young team and we will only get better depending on how we do as a cricket team. If we do well in 10 years time we will have more locals playing the game," he said, adding that his team was targeting a fourth place finish in the Asia Cup.

The captain of the other associate member side, Hong Kong, Tabaruk Dar told a news conference here that his team was not in the Asia Cup "for a picnic".

"Look 80 per cent of our players are of Pakistani origin and they know their cricket. I don't think we are going to be pushovers. But we are aiming to use this tournament to gain exposure and experience for the Asian Cricket Council trophy for associate members in Malaysia," he said.

Both UAE and Hong Kong took part in the last Asia Cup in Sri Lanka in 2004 and Dar said that experience had helped them a lot.

"I think it is a good thing that smaller teams like Hong Kong and UAE are getting a chance to play and compete with the big sides on such a big platform. And I can assure you we will give it our best and be competitive on Tuesday but obviously Pakistan is a much better side."

Dar said tournaments like the Asia Cup encouraged the players to take cricket more seriously. "Most of us are part time cricketers, we work other jobs in Hong Kong so this tournament is a big opportunity and exposure for us."