Former Hong Kong skipper Anshuman Rath, who decided to quit Hong Kong cricket for better opportunities in India, is looking for opportunities in Odisha Cricket team in the future. Rath, who hails from Bhubaneswar, also added that he is in talks with Saba Karim and doesn’t mind turning for others.
When Rath’s father moved to Hong Kong from Bhubaneswar, he hardly knew that his move would pay rich dividends in a few years of time as his son went on to represent the national cricket team after scoring tons of runs for Middlesex Second XI alongside some of England's future stars like Sam Curran and Ollie Pope. After Babar Hayat stepped down from the position of Hong Kong captaincy, the lanky wicket-keeper eventually appointed as the skipper and almost pulled off an upset against the team from his homeland in the 2018 Asia Cup. His 86-run innings was one fine contribution but as it turns out, that would be Rath’s last ODI innings for “Asia's World City”.
Five years after making his ODI debut for Hong Kong, Rath has decided enough is enough and is ready to get into the “hardest domestic system” in the world and will move his base to native land India. Although he holds an Indian passport, he will have to be in India for a year to be eligible to make his debut in Ranji Trophy and he is ready to pay the price. Talking exclusively to SportsCafe, Rath talked about his future plans.
“See, I hail from Odisha and was a regular visitor to Bhubaneswar to see my grandmother who stays there and we are very much connected to our roots. I have always been proud of my Odisha roots and that is one of my prime motivation as I won’t feel out of place,” Rath tells SportsCafe in an exclusive interview.
“Even I played for Mukteshwar Cricket Club when I was a kid travelling to India. India is one of the hardest domestic systems to get into and I really want to make it happen by playing there. But it is not like I am not looking for other states. If it is Saurashtra or Vidarbha or any other state, I am ready for it to be honest."
But was it a decision taken in frustration because Hong Kong lost their ODI status after failing in the World Cricket League Division Two back in April? Hong Kong actually had a very good chance to secure ODI status through 2022 and a place in the 13-team ODI Super League in 2017 but they narrowly lost a pair of one-day games in the WCL Championship to the Netherlands by a margin of five runs and 13 runs.
After failing to impress in the Zimbabwe World Cup qualifiers, the team had to make way for Papua New Guinea and the United States of America who subsequently qualified for the next round with success in the Division 2 WCL. Rath, however, stated that it was his plan from the past and due to the complicated VISA rules in the UK, India became his ultimate target. Being an Indian cricket follower further helped the cause.
“You see Mark Chapman who moved to New Zealand in order to pursue better opportunities. At the end of the day, it is all about getting into a better structure and approach the sport in a very professional way. I know playing in India is a tough one and I also don’t want to play with the reputation of what I did as a cricketer in Hong Kong colours. I want to start fresh and if I can do well in club cricket now, I can get myself registered for IPL.
“I am in talks with Saba Karim (BCCI's GM Operations). I know for a fact I had to wait for a year to be eligible for the domestic system and that allows me time to get into it and understand it better. I have stacked up some experiences and that might help me out but I am ready to be put under a lot of pressure and thrive under it. Playing for India is my long-term and eventual dream now,” Rath concluded.
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