HKI United in HKT20 Blitz
From the team that brought you Islamabad United of the Pakistan Super League, Hong Kong Island United will replace Woodworm Island Warriors from last year’s Blitz . Mikey Godsmark previews the team’s chances.
Owned by the Leonine Sports Group, HKI United very closely share a badge and brand with Islamabad United and even some of their players. The owners have lived in Hong Kong for around 25 years and they seek to improve cricket in their adopted homeland and see their franchise as a means of doing just that. They also have a blend of top quality domestic and overseas players that have the ability to deliver when it matters most.
Away from his job as a teacher, former Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson was the main retained player for HKI along with another former skipper in the form of Tanwir Afzal, who surprisingly took no part in the World Cricket League Championship matches against Netherlands and was not named in Hong Kong’s squad for the ACC Emerging Nations Cup. Their final retained player was experienced off-spinner Eshan Khan who found himself in the wickets in the one-day games against the Dutch.
United’s picks in the draft were also of a decent standard. Their first pick was Dan Pascoe who played multiple first-class games for Oxford MCCU between 2009 and 2012 but has since moved to Hong Kong. Next for HKI was Australia-based Kyle Christie, who will want to break back into the Hong Kong side after a disastrous debut against PNG where his first over went for 18 and he didn’t bowl again. Their Chinese pick in the draft was Ady Leewho is the former captain of the Hong Kong Dragons and former captain of the GB Wallball team.
Star name and captain for Hong Kong Island United is Misbah Ul-Haq who also skippers Islamabad and the Pakistan test side. He will be hoping to end a rut of form that has seen many call his ability to captain his country into question. His batting will be supported by Warwickshire’s Ian Bell who played for Perth Scorchers at this years Big Bash League. Another United player with Big Bash experience is leg-spinner Samuel Badree who has a T20I economy rate of just 5.56 and also played a single game for Islamabad at this year’s PSL.
Veteran off-break bowler Saeed Amjal, also played in the PSL for Islamabad United, and will bring over 250 T20 wickets across 12 years. Hong Kong Island’s associate pick is another one from Scotland as opening batter George Munsey joins up with the squad. He played every game for the Scots at the Desert T20 and has been around multiple county second elevens in over the last few years.
Hong Kong Island United have by far the most experienced squad at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz and this is reflected in both their domestic and overseas players. A lot will rely on whether the bowling of Dan Pascoe and Kyle Christie can withstand the pressure as they will have to make up the fifth bowler. However, their batting line-up is one of the strongest at the tournament.
Prediction: A high quality squad, fifth bowler is only question mark. 2nd
Overseas players: Misbah Ul-Haq (Pak) (c), Ian Bell (Eng), Samuel Badree (WI), Saeed Ajmal (Pak), George Munsey (Sco)
Domestic players: Jamie Atkinson, Tanwir Afzaal & Ehsan Khan, Daniel Pascoe, Kyle Christie, Moner Dar, Muhammad Balal, Devang Bulsara, Rory Caines, Ady Lee, Anas Khan