Hong Kong no Twenty20 push overs: Thunder to be tested at Wade

TALENT: There’s plenty of talent in the Hong Kong side to take on the Sydney Thunder at Wade Park. There’s now 24 days until Wade Park hosts the Sydney Thunder for the region’s first taste of top flight Twenty20 cricket against Hong Kong.

There’s not a lot of mystery surrounding the defending Big Bash champions –Andre Russell can hit the ball a long way, so too can Shane Watson.

Pat Cummins bowls faster than anyone in Australian cricket and Kurtis Patterson is regarded as one of the country’s most promising young bats.

But what about Hong Kong?

A minnow nation in terms of cricketing prowess, Hong Kong still boasts arich cricketing history with the first organised match taking place in 1841.

Hong Kong’s international side first appeared in a fixture against Shanghai in February 1866, three months before a group of Indigenous players became the first team to represent Australia in a tour of England.

An ICC Associate Nation since 1969, Hong Kong was granted One Day International and T20 International status in 2014, and has qualified for the previous two World T20 tournaments.

Currently coached by former Kent and Middlesex bowler Simon Cook, Hong Kong beat 2014 tournament co-hosts Bangladesh but failed to progress from the group stage.

In the 2016 edition in India Hong Kong again failed to progress from the group stage but acquitted themselves well, especially with the bat on pitches that suited slow bowling.

More recently Hong Kong completed a One Day International Series win over Papua New Guinea 2-1 with captain Babar Hayat named player of the series.

Hong Kong’s most recent T20I came against Ireland in September.

Opener Nizakat Khan slammed 63 off 43 deliveries while Hayat tormented Ireland’s bowling attack with 49 of 31 balls.

Fast bowler Aiziz Khan then collected 3/10 off three overs as Hong Kong dismissed Ireland for 129, 40 runs short of Hong Kong’s 5/169.

Players to watchBabar Hayat:At 24-years-old, Hayat has led from Hong Kong by example since taking over the captaincy in August. A big hitting right hand batter, Hayat averages 30.29 with the bat in T20I cricket with one century and two fifties to his name.

Aizaz Khan:An accurate right arm fast-medium, 23-year-old Khan is an exciting prospect for Hong Kong cricket. Since making his debut as an eighteen year old, Khan has taken 26 wickets in 20 T20Is at an average of 18.07. Also a handy batsman, Khan hit a composed 44 in the recent one day series against PNG.

Jamie Atkinson:Atkinson is an wicket-keeper batsman in the mould of Adam Gilchrist.

A big hitting right-hander who opens the batting, the 26-year-old averages 33.14 with the bat from 33 T20 appearances.

Nadeem Ahmed:Ahmed is Hong Kong’s number one spinner, the 29-year-old’s left-arm orthodox not only takes wickets but keeps the run rate low. With career best figures of 4/21, Ahmed has taken 22 wickets at T20I cricket at an average of 20.68 and a measly economy rate of 6.45.

Tanwir Afzal:A big hitting all-rounder Afzal boasts an T20I strike rate of 126.58 and a top score of 56. The 28-year-old has also snared 19 wickets in 21 matches with his swinging right-arm fast-medium deliveries.

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