Exclusive: "Goal is to perform and give my best for Hong Kong," says Nizakat Khan
18th September 2018, Hong Kong took on the Men in Blue in India's first game of the 2018 Asia Cup. Cricket in Hong Kong was at a halt as they had recently lost the one-day status back in March. Hong Kong had qualified for the tournament on the back of some wonderful performances in the Asia Cup Qualifiers. They had defeated the United Arab Emirates in the final to reach the Asia Cup.
Hong Kong skipper Anshuman Rath won the toss and elected to bowl first at the Dubai International Stadium in Dubai. Batting first, the Indian side were off to a thunderous start courtesy Shikhar Dhawan's quickfire innings. Rohit Sharma's men scored 285 in the allotted 50 overs. The expectations from Hong Kong were low, the Indian bowlers were expected to wrap things up quickly but the Hong Kong openers had something else on their mind.
Hong Kong skipper Anshuman Rath walked out to bat alongside his partner Nizakat Khan. Both of them had gotten off to a decent start against Pakistan but one wicket followed another as Hong Kong succumbed to the pressure. This day against India was different, the Hong Kong openers had learnt from their mistakes. They added 174 runs batting together as Rath scored 73 and Nizakat scored 92.
In an exclusive chat, Nizakat Khan takes us through his journey.
When asked about Hong Kong's different approach in the second game Nizakat said, "In the first game, we lost badly against Pakistan. We didn't play 50 overs so the mindset was to play 50 overs in this game and then we just kept things simple. We just wanted to bat 50 overs. We had a good start and we knew that if we get a good start we can pull this game off but unfortunately we lost at the end, our lower order didn't step up again but we did really well, I am proud of my team".
"When we (Anshuman and Nizakat) were batting together we were just saying to each other that we just have to bring this game deep. If we get it deeper it will be easier for us later on. We were playing and talking that we have to make small partnerships. India were the experienced side, credit goes to them for holding their nerve". The Indian side restricted Hong Kong to 259 for 8 and won the game convincingly at the end.
After the game, the Indian players went to the Hong Kong dressing room, when asked about the gesture Nizakat said, "Indian players, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, you know they are top cricketers in the world especially in limited overs. It was a dream come true for the players. Dhoni is our idol. He is one of my favourite players. Rohit Sharma as well. I grew up watching Dhoni play and playing alongside him and then performing with him is a different thing for me".
Nizakat was looking good against Pakistan, he had hit two boundaries off Mohammed Amir in the first over but miscommunication between him and Anshuman led to his run-out.
"I had a good start with the bat and I was feeling very confident. The game against UAE in the Asia Cup Qualifier gave me a lot of confidence to perform in the Asia Cup so I was confident that if I stay for longer periods I'll score big runs and that's what I did against India and the run-out, I don't know where it came from but yeah it happens, this is cricket so we have to learn from each and every game. Against big oppositions, we should learn so it was a big lesson for me"
His 92 against India was his third half-century in one-day international cricket. On all three occasions, Nizakat has been dismissed in the 90s. "I missed three 100s. I don't know it's just luck that I got out in the 90s. Maybe I think too much about the 100. I still need to work on my game so I reduce my mistakes and score a 100". His approach towards his game is positive, he focuses on learning things as he prepares for the next test.
"It's a big learning experience for me and our whole team. I've watched Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Rayudu, watched them play and how they build their innings and hopefully I'll take some positives out of these two games". The 26-year-old opener is willing to learn at every step of his career.
Hong Kong lost the ODI status in March, while speaking about it Nizakat said,
"Losing ODI status, it meant a lot to us. We are working very hard to get it back. We lost the ICC status, I think ICC should have reviewed that and seen how well we have played in world cricket league. We are working hard, we are talented, we are a young side and still learning. There is a good future in Hong Kong".
Nizakat has been in incredible batting form. When asked about his future he said, "Future is to perform and give my best for Hong Kong. I am looking forward to franchise cricket as well and I am gonna put my name in the auction. Hopefully, if I get picked I'll have a chance to play alongside big names and to learn from them. I am excited and looking forward to the coming years".
The Hong Kong opener has grown rapidly, his strides have been big and his ability to learn from his mistakes has been commendable. When asked about his rapid growth and growing success Nizakat credited the T20 format.
"The T20 leagues help us a lot, especially our T20 blitz, to play alongside Darren Sammy, Kumar Sangakkara and all others. It helps us a lot sharing the dressing room with them, they always share their experiences. It helps us a lot. It gives us more confidence. I've recently performed against Sydney Thunder, scored a 100. Scored a 100 in the T20 blitz. Hope I get opportunity in the T10 league, Emirates League. If I get a chance it will be good for my future as well".
After his 92, Nizakat Khan emerged as a hero. His openness to learning will earn him great opportunities in the future. The opener wants to play franchise cricket, he believes that he can learn a lot while playing T20 or franchise cricket. His ultimate goal is to perform for Hong Kong. Nizakat's approach guarantees him a good future.