Howzat for talent!

Howzat for talent!

Two outstanding teenager cricketers are making names for themselves with the bat and ball in Hong Kong's senior squad

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Batsman-wicketkeeper Anshuman Rath, 14, (left) and bowler Daljeet Singh, 16, hope to play for the World Cup in three years.
Batsman-wicketkeeper Anshuman Rath, 14, (left) and bowler Daljeet Singh, 16, hope to play for the World Cup in three years.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP
Daljeet Singh and Anshuman Rath are staking strong claims to be regulars in Hong Kong's senior cricket team even though they are still at school. The pair are playing at this month's Asian Cricket Council Trophy Elite tournament, in the United Arab Emirates.

Both of them were selected to play in Hong Kong's two opening one-day victories.

After the tournament finishes on Friday, the duo will be focusing on this year's Karp Group Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, at Kowloon Cricket Club, on October 27 and 28. Last year, Hong Kong lost in the semi-finals to eventual champions Pakistan.

"I feel proud to represent Hong Kong in international tournaments," says Anshuman, 14, a Year 10 student at West Island School, who plays as a batsman and wicketkeeper.

"As an Indian living in Hong Kong, I want to enjoy the sport that many people in my home country are in love with."

Bowler Daljeet, who turns 17 next Sunday, and is a Form Five student at Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo), has been playing for Hong Kong's senior team - ranked 20th in the world - for the past year.

"Playing with its senior cricketers has taught me a lot," he says. "From the world rankings, I didn't think Hong Kong were a strong side. But after playing with the seniors, I realised we are comparable to the top sides. I believe in the Hong Kong spirit, and that together we can match the leading teams."

Daljeet took up cricket by accident when he was asked to play with friends who were members of the Vagabonds Cricket Club. "I was dragged to the pitch by my friends as they didn't have enough players," says Hong Kong-born Daljeet, who returned from living in India at the start of Primary Two.

His fine bowling helped the Vagabonds to victory - and in turn he was hooked on the sport.

He says Gurbinder Singh, his 21-year-old cousin, constantly encouraged him to attend training as a beginner. "Without his help, I wouldn't have improved so fast, or been called up to the senior national squad last year, after only two years," he says.

Anshuman has played cricket since he was four, when his father - a passionate cricket fan - handed him a bat and ball. He was eight when took his first cricket training course, at the University of Hong Kong's Stanley Ho Sports Centre.

His devotion to the sport led him to spend last Easter at a batting training course in Australia.

Anshuman says his father's encouragement has played an important part in his success. "My dad has always been supportive. He watches almost every local match and sometimes he goes overseas to support me, too. My mum also tries to watch matches - but she finds it boring."

Anshuman joined Hong Kong's under-16 squad two years ago and is now the team captain; his brilliant performances in two ACC under-16 Elite Cup tournaments, in 2010 and this year, led to him making his senior ACC debut in the UAE as the youngest member of the team.

He hit 13 runs in Hong Kong's 278-run victory over Saudi Arabia. He also took two catches while playing as wicketkeeper. Daljeet, needed only one ball to bowl out the last Saudi Arabian batsman and win the game.

The following day the boys helped Hong Kong defeat Kuwait by five wickets.

The duo, who are teammates at Hong Kong Cricket Club, are both determined to keep improving. "I always seek to play my best as I know the opportunities I have now are all invaluable," Anshuman says.

"I don't want a loss of focus to mean I let these chances go."

Daljeet says: "I hope I'll be good enough to take play in next year's Hong Kong Sixes tournament. I also believe Hong Kong have the ability to qualify for the 2015 World Cup. I am confident that I could play an active role in qualifying and then playing at the tournament."

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