Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson says Ireland will be the toughest test for us
Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson is confident that his side will able to claim one of the top six spots in the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 (ICC WT20Q), which gets underway on 15 November.
Hong Kong, which features in Group A alongside current ICC WT20Q champion Ireland, as well as Namibia, Canada, Uganda, USA, Italy and host United Arab Emirates (UAE), is targeting a top six finish but knows Ireland will be the toughest test in the side’s group matches.
Atkinson admitted: “With six places available for the ICC World T20 we are really pushing for one of those spots. We’ve got Ireland in our group who have qualified for every World T20, bar one, so they will be obviously the toughest test, but all the lads are quite confident that we can push ourselves forward for the top six.
“We haven’t targeted specific teams given the size of our group, but what we know is that if we finish first we go straight through, but if you come in the top 5 you’ve still got a chance to qualify. In Twenty20 anything can happen so basically a couple of wins early on is going to release the pressure a bit. If we can get a couple of wins early on that will help us to push forward.”
Hong Kong has been preparing abroad for the tournament, Atkinson explained: “We went to Sydney for around nine days where we played a handful of Twenty20 games against a New South Wales academy and Development XI.
“We had a really good experience there and got to play and train at some really good facilities in Blacktown. Now we are back in Hong Kong just training for the next couple of weeks before we head to the UAE.”
The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman explained that the team has focused on improving its fitness since the last WT20Q, where the side finished 11th after winning four games: “Basically we have picked up a lot in our fitness and fielding. We targeted that as an area we could really work on.
“A few of the lads are on full contracts with the Hong Kong Sports Institute so are in the gym quite a lot. We figure that is how we can get an edge to win games.”
Hong Kong has a couple of new faces in the side, and Atkinson was keen to tell fans to keep an eye out for the side’s spin attack: “We’ve always had good spinners. There is a guy called Moner Ahmed who got player of the tournament in the ACC qualifying tournament. He missed the last few 50-over tournaments we played in but he is back in the side now and will be a key player.
“There’s also Irfan Ahmed who is one of our all-rounders. He opens the batting and bowls quick for us and is another player who contributes really well.”
Hong Kong will begin its campaign at the ICC WT20 Qualifier against Italy on 15 November at Abu Dhabi Oval 1.
Hong Kong – James Atkinson (captain), Tanwir Afzal, Irfan Ahmed, Moner Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Haseeb Amjad, Waqas Barkat, Mark Chapman, Babar Hayat, Aizaz Khan, Nizakat Khan, Roy Lamsam, Ali Skhawat, Kinchit Shah, Daljeet Singh.