Hong Kong captain Anshuman Rath has decided to leave colony and move to India, the country from which his family originates from, in a bid to qualify as a local player, with the dream of one day playing test cricket for his adoptive nation.
After making himself unavailable for Hong Kong’s set of T20 World Cup qualifiers in October, the 21-year old is set to move to Mumbai, with the aim eventually of joining Vidarba, twice Ranji Trophy winners.
The move is prompted by the frustrations that Rath has experienced playing cricket in Hong Kong, where opportunities are limited, both from a playing and financial viewpoint.
There are a number of challenges to be overcome first. Despite the fact that he holds an Indian passport, Rath will have to serve a qualification period before he is eligible for Vidarbha in October 2020, a period he intends to spend playing club cricket in Nagpur. And he will have to prove himself at that level as well, because Vidarbha are offering no guarantees that they will offer him a contract at the end of that period.
Still Rath has already had to overcome his fair share of obstacles already in his young cricketing career. Aged 14, he left Hong Kong for England and the prestigious Harrow school, joining the Middlesex academy where he played alongside future test players like Ollie Pope and Sam Curran.
However, due to complex UK visa rules which prohibit players from Associate countries becoming full-time professionals, Rath had to forsake his career in the UK, and head back to Hong Kong.
Rath first came to global attention in last year’s Asia Cup, when he almost help cause a major upset in an ODI against India, led by Rohit Sharma on that occasion. Playing with Nizakat Shah, the pair, chasing an India total of 286, shared an opening stand of 174, before the greater experience of the Indians took the match away from them, and Hong Kong lost by 26 runs.
That, though, proved to be somewhat of a recent high point for Hong Kong cricket. Since then, despite Rath’s continued runs, they have been relegated to the third tier of ICC’s 50 over Associate competition, and they have also lost their ODI status.
It has all proved too much for their brightest star, and now he is ready to prove himself in Indian domestic cricket, as he looks to reset his targets and dreams.