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Irfan Ahmed Returns to Hong Kong Team for Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes

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Hard-hitting batsman Irfan Ahmed will be hoping to lead Hong Kong to its first ever Cup title at the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes this coming weekend as the hosts named a powerful squad for the eight-team tournament at the Kowloon Cricket Club.

 Irfan, who missed last year’s tournament, returns to a side which includes four players from the team which reached the Cup semi-finals 12 months ago – Moner Dar, Tanwir Afzal, Nizakat Khan and Babar Hayat.

Jamie Atkinson, who will lead the side and fast bowler Aizaz Khan complete the seven-strong squad.

Hong Kong’s closest brush with winning the tournament came in 2009 when they stormed into the finals with wins over teams like England and India. That dream run was ended by South Africa who held their nerve to record a last-ball victory.

That superb performance was mostly due to Irfan who upstaged more illustrious players with his clean hitting and Hong Kong will be hoping the all-rounder will once again be able to show his class in front of the home fans.

“Irfan has more potential than any cricketer I have seen in my life and that includes professionals who are paid millions every year and who we see on television. I rate him very highly,” said Hong Kong coach, Charlie Burke. “Irfan has come a long way and is fitter and is hitting the ball better than ever. With others like Jamie (Atkinson) who is just having an amazing 12 months, I’m optimistic we will do very well and I’m sure the local fans can look forward to the weekend.”

The squad is bristling with big-hitters. Tanwir Afzal is one of those power hitters and is entering the tournament in fine form after having smashed a brilliant hundred against Oman in just his fifth appearance for the Hong Kong Senior team at the recent ACC Trophy Elite 2012. It was Afzal’s maiden century for Hong Kong. The performance was strong enough for him to be named Man of the Match with figures of 3-38 from eight overs to pair his 106 from 78 balls.

Another player to watch out for is teenager Babar Hayat who had a good outing last year as Hong Kong reached the Cup Semi-finals where they bowed out to eventual champions Pakistan.

He will be followed by the dangerous duo of Moner Dar and Tanwir Afzal both of whom can hit the ball a long way.

Dar and Afzal will also play crucial roles with their bowling. The left-arm spin and unorthodox style of Dar has bamboozled many opposition batsmen and the veteran will be keen to get stuck in as he seeks a first win for Hong Kong. Afzal, a fast-medium bowler, will also be a danger.

“We will back ourselves. We are a very close group and everyone treats each other with the utmost respect. We also take a lot more pride in our performance,” Burke said. “In the past Hong Kong teams may have had individuals that cared more about their performances rather than the team. However this squad is very committed and supportive of each other.”

Hong Kong is pooled with Australia, England and South Africa in a tough opening pool. The other pool comprises defending champions Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands.

“Both Pools are tough. We have three recent champions in our group (Australia in 2010,) South Africa, 2009) and England (2008) so I have no doubt that if we progress past the group stages we could be standing on the podium collecting the silverware with the biggest smiles you have ever seen,” Burke said. “But the first goal will be to win our first pool game against Australia. Sixes is all about momentum, more than any plans or strategy.”

Hong Kong Squad: Jamie Atkinson (Captain), Tanwir Afzal, Irfan Ahmed, Moner Dar, Babar Hayat, Nizakat Khan, Aizaz Khan, Charlie Burke (Manager)

Other 2012 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes-related stories: South Africa Beats Pakistan to Win 2012 Hong Kong Sixes, Pakistan On Course for Record 6th Hong Kong Cricket Sixes Title, Brad Hodge to Captain Australia @ HK Sixes, Hong Kong to Play Australia in First Game of HK Cricket Sixes this Weekend, India Names Strong Team for 2012 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Netherlands Confirm Teams for HK Sixes, Irfan Ahmed Returns to Hong Kong Team for HK Cricket Sixes, 8 Countries to Compete in this Weekend's Hong Kong Cricket Sixes and HD Videos from Hong Kong Cricket Sixes 2012 and Pictures from the 2012 Hong Kong Sixes.

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