Tabarak Dar, 32, has been Hong Kong's captain since 2006. Originally from Pakistan, he came to Hong Kong with his family as a teenager and has been immersed in the territory's cricket ever since. He is a full-time coach employed by the Hong Kong Cricket Association. He led his team in the 2008 Asia Cup with some distinction, opening the batting and impressing with his grace under pressure.

He spoke to us in Kuala Lumpur, as his team prepared for the 2008 ACC Trophy Elite.

"Cricket has a lot to do with mental strength."

Amateurs against professionals, were Hong Kong out of their depth at the Asia Cup?

We learnt that when we're going up against quality sides like India and Pakistan, we need to go in fully prepared. We also most definitely need to be playing a lot more cricket if we even want to have a chance of competing against ODI sides. The teams that qualify for the Asia Cup should be compensated by the ACC and sent on tours to face a higher level of opposition in order to prepare for the Asia Cup. Even if we play the 'A' teams of the ODI countries it will help us to a large extent in gaining valuable experience. Playing at that level is vital in our preparation when we are about to take on the best sides in  the world.

What is the difference in the skill levels between Associate and ODI nations?

There is a lot of difference and a lot of mismatches when we play the ODI teams especially in the batting department. The major difference is that these players are professionals whereas all of us in Hong Kong are amateurs. They play at the highest level every single game every single day and hence they're used to it. We, on the other hand, are still adjusting even to the media attention. The bowlers are much quicker than anyone we have ever played and it takes great deal of skill to play a proper shot at times.

Do you think Hong Kong and UAE have an advantage over other teams in the ACC Trophy, because they played against Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka so recently in the Asia Cup?

Yes, I definitely think we have an advantage. We may not have been even close to performing at their standards but what is most important is that it has given us a great deal of confidence playing against these sides. Cricket to a large extent has a lot to do with mental strength. Our bowlers performed well and those who took wickets in the Asia Cup are now ready to go into the ACC Trophy. Our batting is our main concern at the moment but I think given a little more time we should be ready.

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