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No pressure on us: Atkinson

Hong Kong captain plays down his team’s chances, picks Bangladesh as favourite to top the group

No pressure on us: Atkinson  - Cricket News
Jamie Atkinson captain of the Hong Kong cricket team at the captain's arrival press conference.

Even as he played down his team’s chances, Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson said his team feels no pressure as it heads into the ICC World Twenty20 2014, which begins on March 16 (Sunday). 

Hong Kong is drawn in Group A in the first round, along with Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal. 

"Bangladesh are the favourites in our group," conceded Atkinson. "There is no pressure on us. At least that's how we are going to think about it. It is quite a dangerous thing for our opponents. 

"It is a great moment for Hong Kong to qualify for the World T20 for the first time. We have had some good preparation. We have been in Sri Lanka for 10 to 12 days. We moved to Dubai in the last week or so, where we played against other Associate Members." 

Hong Kong goes into the tournament having beaten Italy, Uganda, Namibia and USA in last year's qualifiers. Although it lost to UAE and Ireland, a victory against Papua New Guinea in the play-off semifinal helped it secure a spot in the main tournament in Bangladesh. 

Atkinson was Hong Kong’s leading scorer in the qualifying tournament, making 241 including two half-centuries. Waqas Barkat, with 233 runs in ten matches, also played a crucial role. However, veteran left-arm spinner Munir Dar’s suspension from bowling will hurt. In January, Dar was suspended by the ICC from bowling in international cricket for 12 months because his bowling action was found illegal. His batting might still prove to be useful, given his experience in the Dhaka Premier League in 2007-08. 

Atkinson added that his team would draw inspiration from Afghanistan's 32-run victory over Bangladesh in the recent Asia Cup. "It is great for Associates that Afghanistan got that win against Bangladesh," he said. "It shows the gap is closing between Associates and Full Member countries. I think it is excellent for cricket as a whole." 

Before heading into the main tournament, Hong Kong will play two warm-up matches against Zimbabwe and the Netherlands on March 12 and 14. 

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