Meet Anshy, the Odisha boy in Hong Kong jersey

The 19-year-old left-handed batsman has been named vice-captain for the World Cup qualifying fixtures against Nepal in October.

Anshuman Rath: "I believe we (Hong Kong) have the skill and the ability to beat top teams."   -  Special Arrangement

India and Hong Kong go a long way. In the primeval years of British Hong Kong, the Indian mohur (gold coin) acted as a legal tender, With time, the steady influx of Indians, among a host of other Asians, helped the south China nation develop into a business hub.

The autonomous nation recently announced its cricket team for the upcoming ICC World Cricket League (WCL) and Intercontinental Cup fixtures. It turns out that the vice-captain of the team is a boy from Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Meet Anshuman Rath, fondly called Anshy - a wicketkeeper/batsman, who can also bowl slow left-arm orthodox. Anshy’s parents moved to Hong Kong for work in the late nineties. “I got hooked to the game when I watched India reach the final of the ICC World Cup in 2003. I was only six. My father and I started playing cricket at home. After breaking enough furniture, he decided to enrol me at the Hong Kong Cricket Club for coaching.

"I keep wondering as to where my cricket would be if my parents had not shifted base, but there are no regrets,” he told Sportstar in an exclusive chat. Being a southpaw with gloves, he is inspired by Kumar Sangakkara. “When it comes to leadership, he is one person I look up to. His ability to remain calm under pressure is something that stands out to me. I also aim to achieve the respect his fellow teammates have for him, because of his humility,” added Anshy, who has four half-centuries (in 10 outings) to his name in ODI cricket.

Initially, in 2012, he honed his batting skills under Ian Thacker in Perth (Australia) before moving to the UK to join Harrow School. “The decision to move there helped my cricket.” As part of the WCL fixture, Hong Kong will host Nepal on October 14 and 15. The games are a part of the qualifying process for the ICC World Cup next year. The Intercontinental Cup is a four-day fixture against Afghanistan starting October 20.

“I think qualifying for any World Cup is difficult. I believe we have the skill and the ability to beat top teams. We need to follow discipline and focus on one game at a time. There is a possibility that Hong Kong will qualify for the tournament,” he reasoned.

He hasn’t been to Odisha in the recent past, but he still remembers the vacations. “A visit to India would mean food, family and practising mathematics with my grandfather. I wasn’t too happy with the last one,” he chuckles.

Let’s hope the cricketer finds his foot among numbers and makes his family proud, albeit in a different jersey.