Minnows Hong Kong on Friday defeated favourites United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the qualifiers final to book their spot in the Asia Cup 2018. The associate nation, by the virtue of their victory will play against heavyweights India and Pakistan in the group stages. However, Hong Kong all-rounder Tanwir Afzal, in an exclusive interview to NDTV.com, said that it will be a chance for the side to prove their mettle and showcase their individual skills on the international stage.
"The real goal for us (Hong Kong) will be to give big performances and prove our individual skills on the international circuit, there are many international leagues going on these days around the world. And for an associate country, it will be the best chance for the best players of the side to prove their mettle," Tanwir Afzal said.
Afzal had notched up scores of 15, 5 not out and 10 in the Asia Cup qualifying tournament. He also took a total of three wickets in these matches.
While the Hong Kong all-rounder feels that conditions in UAE will suit both India and Pakistan, he chose Rohit Sharma-led India as the favourites to win the tournament.
"Pakistan and India both are strong sides, these conditions will suit the spinners well. Pakistan have the momentum with them after clinching the Champions Trophy in 2017 and winning the triangular T20 series," Afzal said.
"India, no doubt in every condition will come good. They have a high-standard batting and bowling unit, I don't think Pakistan are the favourites, for me India are.... but on the day, you never know," he added.
Rohit Sharma will lead Team India at the Asia Cup after Virat Kohli was rested for the continental tournament, which is scheduled to get underway on September 15.
Afzal claimed it will be a loss for an associate nation like his, not to see Virat Kohli play as he could give his boys some crucial tips off the field. He also claimed that India team's batting will suffer due to Virat's absence.
"No doubt that with Virat Kohli being rested, India's batting will be affected, he is the world's best batsman. If he would have come, out team could have learnt a lot from him. We have many youngsters in our side, they would have felt proud playing against him."
Hong Kong will begin their Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on September 16. They will take on India on September 18 in the group stage match.